Fairfax briefly shifts its focus to print, promotes the Christmas gifts that keep on giving (for a year, at least)

  • Media
  • November 24, 2015
  • Joshua Riddiford
Fairfax briefly shifts its focus to print, promotes the Christmas gifts that keep on giving (for a year, at least)

Fairfax is putting most of its energy into growing its online audience, and the latest numbers show that's working. But a new TVC advertising subscriptions to its stable of magazines suggests the media company still sees some dollar signs in print. 

In the 30 second clip, created by agency InMotionPost, a range of Fairfax publications catering to diverse interests is panned over while a voice over says, “Magazine subscriptions make great Christmas treats for everyone”.

Paid print subscriptions for Fairfax stable magazine and newspaper titles are available for purchase at the Fairfax-exclusive website mags4gifts.co.nz. And the numbers show magazines are still a popular gift. iSubscribe's managing director Hunter Drinan says it sells subscriptions to over 400 different magazines and Christmas is by far the biggest sales period. 

"Over the course of a year, gifts make up 50 percent of our sales but between November and December this figure goes up to 80-85 percent. In fact, close to half our annual sales are placed in Nov-Dec, so it’s a very seasonal purchase. The other key gifting periods are Mothers Day and Fathers Day but sales for these periods are hugely eclipsed by Christmas sales. We operate sites in Australia and the UK and the pattern is exactly the same." 

Fairfax Media's managing director Simon Tong told StopPress earlier this year that because magazines have been more stable than news that division of the business hadn't been subjected to as much change. But its magazines were consumed by the content hungry beast that is Stuff.co.nz back in July. Lifestyle magazines, NZ Life and Leisure, NZ House and Garden, NZ Gardener and Cuisine were all brought under the category of Life and Style while The Cut and NZ Fishing News slipped into sport and NZ Autocar into the motoring category.

So do media consumption habits change markedly over summer? And how does that affect advertising? Typically, it's seen as a good period for the outdoor players because people are more likely to be outside; newspapers do well as a result of all the retail sales in the lead up to (and post) Christmas; and radio is thought to have a more expensive October-November ratecard due to increased demand among retailers. TV viewership generally drops and so does demand from advertisers. And, anecdotally, casual sales of magazines and newspapers in holiday areas tend to increase, with some publishers adjusting their distribution to allow for this (while there are no doubt a few mags read on beaches, plenty are also read in baches and sales of magazines increase when it rains). 

Alex Lawson, group business director for ZenithOptimedia says media companies do shift their planning during the warmer months as most people naturally want to enjoy being outdoors. While some traditional mediums perform well during this period, media companies now see a big opportunity in the small addictive device we now check 150 times a day.

"There are still traditional mediums that do exceptionally well for us during this period, OOH and magazines come to mind, but the big opportunity that we now have is in mobile. Staying present on the device that most of us can’t bear to be separated from for more than a few minutes is a key consideration for us during this period. With the raft of options to do this that we have we’re pretty well covered."

Lawson's comments echo the observation of MediaWorks' Jono Hutchison who recently told StopPress that short form video must be suitable for mobile phone use as content is increasingly consumed on these devices.

However, Lawson also advises marketers not to overlook the value of traditional channels during the warmer months.

"We do need to be careful that we don’t go too far the other way and ignore those mediums that still serve us well during this time," he says. "For example, it always amazes me that cinema’s biggest audience day is Boxing Day and you can usually get some nice deals on airtime during this period too."   

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