Another lens in a media strategist’s toolkit: how agencies are going to use the MPA Magazine 360
Following the launch of the Magazine Publishers Association (MPA) Magazine 360 website, we ask media strategists how they’ve incorporated it into the planning mix and how it’s changing the perception of magazines.
As the media landscape has evolved, new platforms have emerged to create new audiences and ways for brands to reach them. Amid all the innovation, magazines have been doing exactly the same—growing their audiences, expanding their influence. Today, magazines command digital audiences that rival some of the hippest new digital brands.
But until now, the buoyancy of the industry has been measured against print metrics that provide only a sliver of the total picture. The Magazine 360 metric seeks to extend beyond this myopic view and recognise the growing influence of those new channels.
It’s a point Lassoo Media managing director John Baker (formerly Tangible Media CEO) touched on when speaking to NZ Marketing last year.
Not only does it change the perception that magazines are “just printed things” to “contemporary, relevant and cross-platform media” it also puts all the resulting audience numbers in one place.
Baker said that users are now able to see the overall audience potential for magazine brands and categories at a glance, removing the need to collate separate data sources for a holistic view.
FCB Media head of strategy Anne Lipsham has similarly welcomed the move as a positive step that recognises “people have relationships with brands, not channels”.
And while she says it may not replace all the Nielsen runs, she calls it a time saver because the key information is in one place.
Prior to its launch, the reach of magazine brands was built by information from three separate sources: ABC for circulation data, Nielsen for readership and various sources for online and web traffic. Now, strategists and planners can see all of a magazine’s data visualised in one place and compare it to that of other magazines or categories.
Print metrics, readership and circulation, social platform followers including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube reach. There are also brand extensions such as events, and digital metrics including website unique users, email newsletter reach and the reach of digital editions.
It was always a big ask to expect media strategists to wade through all this information for different magazines every time they were thinking of engaging with a digital brand. So, if anything, the tool provides a quick graphic representation that maps out a few potential routes with different titles.
MBM managing partner Sean McCready calls the tool a “ready reckoner” for magazine options when planning.
“Rather than providing hard actionable data we’ll use it to observe opportunities that titles offer beyond the printed page,” he says.
OMD strategy director Cat Macnaughtan agrees, saying the Magazine 360 tool ensures it considers publications that may not have appeared in readership alone.
“Above and beyond that the real power of this tool is giving planners a tool to measure the power of the influence magazines have across all the platforms that they engage with their audiences on now,” she says.
The move is also well timed, considering the wider industry ramifications or programmatic and targeted advertising.
All platforms, be they mass reach or niche, are heeding a call to open up and be accountable for audience measurement and former Ikon joint managing director Emma Bolser sees Magazine 360 as the MPA’s response.
“Most media are striving for more accountability in a programmatic audience-driven world, so it makes sense for this channel to do the same,” she says.
Of course, no measurement system is perfect. And somewhat unsurprisingly, a few of the media strategists expressed reservations about the use of social media data in the Magazine 360 tool, given that these numbers can be inflated quite easily.
That said, there’s an element of self-regulation about the site in that the figures are laid bare for all competitors to see. All claims must be backed by evidence and there are checks and balances in place should there be any anomalies.
Publishers can also request an explanation from competitors if something appears out of the ordinary.
Bolser says having this kind of information only a few clicks away will prove a valuable resource for time-poor planners.
“[It provides] a lovely data visualisation and that’s critical for media planning when teams are short of time and looking at a much wider channel mix than even two years ago,” Bolser says.
“Anything that makes their life easier can help translate into dollars for a media channel.”