Eyeballs rising: Kiwi mags report strong and sustained bar raising

It hasn’t been an avalanche this time round, but the usual dollop of press releases hit the desk today full of language reminiscent of The Property Press, with virtually every magazine claiming the publishing equivalent of “north facing sun-drenched decks” and “indoor/outdoor flow”. Still, purple prose aside, the latest readership numbers for the mags look pretty good for an industry that has taken a battering over the last couple of years. And this data will be welcome relief to those hoping the good news of three months ago was not an aberration.

The big battle of the weeklies rumbles on with The Woman’s Weekly widening the gap slightly on Woman’s Day, although this comparison has all the hallmarks of the US/Aussie dollar cross rate and parity must be just a matter of time. ACP’s champagne will have to kept on ice (but in the meantime it can probably be used to welcome the incoming editorial pair from Weekly).

Predictably, APN has started talking up its combined unduplicated weekly audience of over one million readers to target ACP, but simple arithmetic suggests there is a lot of duplication across New Idea, The Woman’s Weekly and That’s Life. You have to pay close attention to the APN release as they move somewhat conveniently from year on year comparisons to the last release, depending on which story looks the sweetest. The fact is that, for the first time in a long time the weekly women’s category has actually increased its total audience of all people 10+.

14 of the 16 ACP titles measured have shown increases and there have been some great results for the market leader. We are somewhat amused by the description though of Metro as an “investigative power-house” in their release, given the latest lead being all about Auckland cafes and while it’s great that Metro can claim a readership increase of 13.6 percent, the latest run of covers could ankle tap any future opportunities for readership growth. ACP’s claim of 80,000 new readers across the portfolio is positive news for them and will no doubt feature strongly in their sales teams’ power point presentations over the next while.

Similarly, Fairfax is triumphantly claiming gains across the portfolio with NZ Life & Leisure leading the charge with a 21.3 percent increase. Heavyweights NZ House & Garden and Cuisine have shown marginal readership reductions year on year although, like APN, they have cunningly disguised this in “growth for three consecutive periods” in the case of NZ House & Garden and “consistent readership result” for Cuisine. But, like ACP, the bulk of the portfolio is positive, and in some cases, substantially so.

What will have been interesting is the first release for Mindfood after what many industry commentators think has been a long wait for a magazine reporting monthly circulation figures of over 30,000. ACP and Fairfax in particular, will be gunning for some of those juicy ‘deepee essses’ that seem to saturate every issue, especially given it is probably a number below what the industry was expecting. The release from Mindfood is uncharacteristically muted, suggesting this result is “strong” while also pointing out helpfully for us that as a result of their readership being 80.3 percent female, they have a 19.7 percent male audience and that the main metropolitan areas of New Zealand are Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Oh, and they have high annual incomes.

No official word from Healthy Food Media but there would have been an extra helping of tofu at the shared lunch today for the team, given Healthy Food Guide cracked 300,000 readers for the first time. A number of titles by the independents also did well with a total of 24 of the titles measured achieving what Nielsen describe as a significant year on year increase, with a hardly a significant decrease to be seen.

No doubt everyone will read about the various newspaper numbers tomorrow. But it’s getting close to beer o’clock. So we’ll be taking a look at them on Monday.

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