MAT­TER OF TRUST

With cir­cu­la­tion fig­ures down, it’s easy to be pes­simistic about mag­a­zines, but maybe we’re miss­ing the big­ger pic­ture.

New Zealand Marketing - - Tvnz -

In 2007, English pub­lisher Felix Den­nis re­marked, “It’s a long, slow sun­set for ink-on-pa­per mag­a­zines, but sun­sets can pro­duce vast sums of money”.

While these sums might not be as vast as they were in 2007, peo­ple are still buy­ing mag­a­zines de­spite fierce com­pe­ti­tion from mul­ti­ple on­line threats.

But, mag­a­zines aren’t just spilling ink on pa­per, they’re spilling dig­i­tal ink too and ex­tend­ing their brands in cre­ative ways across a va­ri­ety of plat­forms.

The scale of this in­creas­ingly frag­mented au­di­ence can fi­nally be gleaned through Mag­a­zine 360, an on­line mea­sure­ment met­ric launched by the Mag­a­zine Pub­lisher’s As­so­ci­a­tion (MPA) in 2017.

The tool cap­tures mag­a­zine au­di­ences more holis­ti­cally over all of their touch points to give a clearer pic­ture of per­for­mance to ad­ver­tis­ers, for bet­ter or for worse. These touch points in­clude: print, so­cial, dig­i­tal as­sets (dig­i­tal edi­tions, web­sites and email news­let­ters) and events.

Pre­vi­ously brands re­lied on three sep­a­rate sources of in­for­ma­tion: ABC for cir­cu­la­tion data, Nielsen for read­er­ship and var­i­ous sources for on­line and web traf­fic.

The new 360 met­ric is self-reg­u­lated by the pub­lish­ing in­dus­try, mean­ing pub­lish­ers need to pro­vide much of their own data and ad­here to a code of con­duct, au­tho­ris­ing the MPA to check it at any­time.

While its self-reg­u­la­tory na­ture has been met with some trep­i­da­tion re­gard­ing ac­cu­racy of data, it at least pro­vides a gen­eral idea of how the in­dus­try, spe­cific ti­tles and their re­spec­tive plat­forms are per­form­ing.

The big pic­ture

MPA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Pip El­liott says the in­dus­try is see­ing growth in au­di­ence num­bers as the power and com­bi­na­tion of print, dig­i­tal and so­cial work to­gether.

“Mag­a­zines have been masters at sto­ry­telling through our craft in jour­nal­ism, de­sign and pho­tog­ra­phy. These skills are trans­lat­ing over our many con­tent plat­forms as demon­strated when you look at Mag­a­zine 360,” she says.

And while cir­cu­la­tion fig­ures in the in­dus­try are down, the tool has high­lighted some in­ter­est­ing in­sights. For ex­am­ple, in Septem­ber last year, New Zealand Geo­graphic’s read­er­ship was 330,000 while its Face­book reach in New Zealand was 336,827.

Bauer Me­dia com­mer­cial di­rec­tor Kay­lene Hur­ley says Mag­a­zine 360 plays a role in show­ing the breadth and depth of Bauer’s au­di­ence.

“It’s high­light­ing that our brands aren’t just a sin­gu­lar print prod­uct, we’ve got nu­mer­ous au­di­ence touch­points,” she says.

“Like a lot of me­dia com­pa­nies, we’ve been much more than just a sin­gu­lar of­fer­ing for sev­eral years now. We’ve had to in­no­vate, di­ver­sify and en­gage with our au­di­ences where they’re con­sum­ing their con­tent.”

She says dig­i­tal is now ubiq­ui­tous in those con­sump­tion habits. “So it’s a pri­mary chan­nel for us to fur­ther en­gage with our au­di­ences.”

A mat­ter of trust

One thing mag­a­zines have go­ing for them is a level of trust and loy­alty from their au­di­ences.

Lifestyle mag­a­zine brands in par­tic­u­lar, like Vogue, have long been trusted sources of taste and style as well as be­ing har­bin­gers of new trends.

Hur­ley says this is one of the rea­sons brands should con­tinue

to ad­ver­tise in mag­a­zines. “Trust. Whether it’s NZ Lis­tener, Na­dia, Next, Your Home

and Gar­den, both ad­ver­tis­ers and read­ers can rely on the con­tent and en­vi­ron­ment be­ing trust­wor­thy.”

She says be­cause of the enor­mous amount of con­tent on­line, time-poor con­sumers want a trusted, re­li­able source and there’s a great need for qual­ity-cu­rated con­tent.

“An­other ma­jor ad­van­tage of our print as­sets is that our au­di­ence is so highly en­gaged,” she says. “They’ve paid for the con­tent so they want to max­imise their en­joy­ment of the in­vest­ment.”

She says read­ers pore over pages, and con­sumer at­ten­tion is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant when con­sumer at­ten­tion is so frag­mented.

Homestyle mag­a­zine gen­eral man­ager Nick Bur­rowes agrees, say­ing ad­ver­tis­ers en­joy greater au­di­ence trust and brand safety.

“And a very tar­geted reader that chooses to spend money on the medium, treat it as time out and sink them­selves into an is­sue for an hour or more.”

And this is backed up from re­search from Nielsen’s Con­sumer and Me­dia In­sights (Q3 2016 – Q2 2017) over the last five years, show­ing there has been an in­crease in time spent read­ing.

In its top ten ti­tles for to­tal min­utes read, the clear leader was the Chris­tian ti­tle The Word for To­day with 192 min­utes, fol­lowed by Word for You To­day with 183 min­utes, and Lucky Break at 91 min­utes.

This was fol­lowed by more in-depth jour­nal­ist ti­tles such as NZ Lis­tener with 75 min­utes, Read­ers Digest with 72 min­utes, lifestyle ti­tles NZ Gar­dener at 64 min­utes, Sim­ply You at 57 min­utes and Good at 55 min­utes.

While dig­i­tal-na­tive ti­tles are clam­ber­ing for sub­scrip­tions, mag­a­zines have had a loyal and com­mer­cial re­la­tion­ship with read­ers for a long time, says Bur­rowes. “And Nielsen sur­vey data tells us high per­cent­ages of read­ers buy mul­ti­ple is­sues of their favourite ti­tles each year.”

Wired mag­a­zine’s Tim Wu says peo­ple to­day often pay for con­tent with at­ten­tion and time, often with­out con­sent, find­ing our­selves forced to watch or read con­tent we don’t care about.

“There’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween leaf­ing through a mag­a­zine, read­ing ar­ti­cles and ad­ver­tis­ing by choice, and be­ing blasted at by a screen when you have no place to go. In­deed, con­sent is the usual way ac­cess to the body is con­di­tioned.”

A fresh ap­proach

Mag­a­zine brands have been in­creas­ingly cre­ative in the way they work with other brands. While once in­no­va­tion in mag­a­zines might have been rub­bing a page to smell a per­fume, or find­ing a free prod­uct sam­ple stuck to an ad­vert (though ar­guably still ef­fec­tive), to­day mag­a­zines are do­ing so much more.

For ex­am­ple, Idea­log mag­a­zine by ICG Me­dia (pre­vi­ously Tan­gi­ble Me­dia) worked with dig­i­tal so­lu­tions agency One Fat Sheep with the sup­port of Cho­rus to turn its cover into an in­ter­ac­tive con­tents page us­ing AR. It brought the main sec­tions and sto­ries to life, blend­ing print with dig­i­tal.

And last year NZ Geo­graphic launched NZ-VR (with Sir Peter Blake Trust and The Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trusts), with an aim of con­nect­ing New Zealan­ders to marine en­vi­ron­ments by up­load­ing VR and 360-video to its web­site.

El­liott says she’s seen huge in­no­va­tion in the mag­a­zine in­dus­try in­clud­ing the launch of new print ti­tles like Na­dia, win­ning Mag­a­zine of the Year at the MPA Mag­a­zine Me­dia Awards last year.

There’s also been suc­cess in cus­tom pub­lish­ing, she says. “Habi­tat, Kia Ora and

Liv­ing Well fur­ther high­light the in­dus­try’s will­ing­ness to col­lab­o­rate with ad­ver­tis­ers.”

She also points out the launch of dig­i­tal hubs like Bauer’s Food to Love, Homes to Love, Now to Love, Noted and Stuff’s Homed site.

Estab­lished mag­a­zine brands’ long his­to­ries with their read­ers also bodes well for ad­ver­tis­ing, says Bur­rowes, who saw suc­cess with Homestyle’s award-win­ning, three-year cam­paign called ‘Style your Space', with client Citta De­sign.

“No me­dia matches their con­tent with their au­di­ence as strongly as mag­a­zines,” says Bur­rowes. “Mag­a­zine teams also have a deep cat­e­gory knowl­edge that clients can lever­age or glean mar­ket in­for­ma­tion from.”

He says in Homestyle’s case, it has decades of com­bined in­tel from the home de­sign, prod­uct and re­tail sec­tor. “We have a solid grasp of the mar­ket, and what works for ad­ver­tis­ers in the cat­e­gory.”

So, while this long, slow sun­set of inkon-pa­per mag­a­zines might be un­avoid­able, mag­a­zines cer­tainly still have a few sell­ing points. And if mag­a­zines do go out of print, maybe they’ll see their sun­rise in dig­i­tal yet.

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