Bauer claims victory in royal baby battle

Some saw the feverish excitement—and feverish media attention—over the arrival of the royal baby as a sad indictment on humanity. Others saw it as evidence of the rising appeal of the British monarchy in New Zealand and around the world. And more than a few local media outlets and their advertisers saw it as a chance to capitalise on all the extra eyeballs, with Bauer Media pulling out all the stops to get its ‘Souvenir Issue’ onto the shelves five days earlier than usual.  

Bauer’s commercial director Paul Gardiner believes it was the first print magazine in the world to feature pictures of the new regal human, who, according to reputable news service The Civilian, has been something of a disappointment so far

“In fact, I put the challenge out to the market to prove otherwise,” he says. 

Woman’s Day was available on late Wednesday afternoon in Auckland, six hours after the first pictures of the baby came through and more than 12 hours before the print version on the Herald. It’s main competitor, NZ Magazine’s NZ Woman’s Weekly came out two days later on Friday afternoon. And in the world of magazines, time can be money. 

He says sales of the issue, which was 152 pages compared to the normal 104 page run, is tracking at 58 percent above average sales over the past six weeks (the royal wedding issue saw sales increase by 65 percent). And, as a result, he says Bauer has decided to print another 15,000 copies. 

“The difference that we’re seeing in sales uplift compared to Woman’s Weekly [see figures below] reflects that two-day window that we were able to capitalise on.”​

Woman’s Day usually has a two-and-a-half week deadline for advertising, but it left the doors open until 24 hours before printing this issue, which led to a 50 percent uplift in ad sales between the time the birth was announced and the time it went to print. 

The magazine featured 35 pages dedicated to the royal expulsion, and, according to a release, included “exclusive details of the happy event that captivated the world, insight into the young family‘s first days together, plus a look through the history books at royal babies of the past”. 

Gardiner says this project is a prime example of how magazine publishing has evolved to meet the changing market and better compete with online properties. It’s also a prime example of a team working bloody long hours (not surprisingly, Gardiner’s cheeky request to slip in another magazine to go on sale on its normal publishing day didn’t go down too well) and partners like Webstar and Netlink fulling buying in to the idea.  

He says Bauer switched to state of the art presses at Webstar a couple of years back, which enables it to do quick turn around and faster print runs, something that gives it a big advantage over the 20-ish year old presses used by PMP and APN. 

Speaking of APN, Carin Hercock, general manager business development & NPD (and soon-to-be the executive director, consumer insights at Nielsen) says the arrival of Prince George delivered a boost in numbers across its brands. 

“His timing wasn’t great for print media on the other side of the world, but we led the Herald’s front page with news on the baby over four days and finished with a souvenir lift-out on Friday [The Onion even noticed it],” she says. “Retail sales increased around five percent for each day we featured the royal mum and dad or little Prince George.” 

She says the biggest impact was seen across the Herald’s digital platforms. The Life & Style section that ran all the baby news saw a 110 percent traffic lift over the previous week and a 67 percent lift in weekly audience. The traffic peaked on Wednesday 24 July (which was also the highest day for newspaper sales), despite the first baby pics featuring in Thursday’s edition. 

Across the entire week, 14 percent of all the videos viewed on the Herald website and apps were content based on the pending and finally arrival of the royal baby. 

The Woman’s Weekly’s special issue hit the newsstands two days early, and was delivered by 2pm on Friday to all Auckland outlets. Like Woman’s Day, pagination was increased, going from 104 to 120 pages and the NZ Magazines team produced special rack cards and extra merchandising. 

“News of the special edition also delivered a 30 percent increase in advertising. The Royal Baby special is still on sale so we don’t have actual sales results yet, however based on previous experience we are estimating a retail circulation uplift of 28 percent.” 

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