Nielsen and the ABC have recently released their respective breakdown of the readership and circulation figures. As has come to be expected, the downward decline has continued for the weekly publications, with each of the publications surveyed in this category suffering year-on-year dips in readership. However, there was also good news for some of the publications included within the survey.
Starting with the bad news, SkyWatch suffered the biggest readership loss, shedding 184,000 readers as it went from attracting 827,000 last year to 643,000 in the latest survey. Woman's Day (746,000 to 631,000), AA Directions (827,000 to 723,000), NZ Woman's Weekly (731,000 to 639,000) and Australian Women's Weekly (619,000 to 543,000) completed the top five in terms of readership losses.
In each case, the circulation figures for these 15 publications followed readership, with stats from ABC showing that there were fewer of these publications on the shelves of bookstores and supermarkets across the nation.
Although these results aren't promising, it's worth mentioning that the Nielsen data is based on a population demographic of everyone aged ten and over. And at a time when advertisers and media agencies are increasingly looking for more targeted information to determine which media to buy, broad data sets like these are often segmented when media owners negotiate advertising deals. And because magazines often have niche targeted groups of the population that advertisers might want to target, the magazine publishing industry has over the last few years managed to increase its advertising revenue (according to the ASA figures).
Many of the major publications are also generating additional revenue in the online space through websites that often complement the content published in the magazines. Given the growing importance of the web-based activities, Bauer recently announced that it would be spending a $1.2 million dollars on marketing its revamped digital properties. And since the downward trend of weekly publications is showing little indication of slowing down, this move will be important for the future of the publisher in the Kiwi market.
But there wasn't only bad news on the readership and circulation front. Many of the publications surveyed also enjoyed growth in both departments. And while these weren't as pronounced as the drops, they did still indicate that certain magazines continue to have a decent demand in the local market.
Resene's content-marketing publication Habitat enjoyed the biggest lift in readership, going from 173,000 last year to 212,000 in the latest survey. And completing the top five were Motorhomes, Caravans and Destinations (62,000 to 83,000), Family Care (43,000 to 61,000), NZ Life & Leisure (130,000 to 143,000) and M2 (65,000 to 72,000).
Recently Remix magazine founder Tim Phin told StopPress that he's noticed a movement back to magazines, because many brands see it as a luxury space: "Net-a-Porter has just created a magazine that they’re using to build their brand. There’s been a movement of car companies going back to print, especially luxury ones. Everyone is doing online and Facebook and things, but now if you’re doing magazines you’re a quality brand.”
Magazines like NZ Life & Leisure, Metro and NZ Weddings certainly fall into this category, and they certainly provide an attractive space for brands to deliver their promotional messaging. However, other niche publications, which aren't necessarily as slick, are also doing well. NZ Trucking, NZ Rugby World and Recipes+ all stand as testament to the fact that Kiwi readers are still attracted to certain content, specifically in the magazine format.
And while digital will continue to disrupt the industry and pull audiences away from the traditional mediums, there is also a growing trend of turn-off culture, which is seeing some switch off their devices to escape the ubiquitousness of digital technology—and this is something that could give magazines an enduring appeal.
Here is the full report from Nielsen:
Click here to see the ABC's circulation results.