Magazines and the virtuous circle of value

There is little value in reminding you that
magazines are well targeted and engaging. We recently conducted a survey of
agency people and when asked to describe magazines, 78 percent and 71 percent of you
respectively chose those definitions. So we’re virtually all in agreement
there. But there is value in talking about why magazines are well targeted, and how readers are engaged. Then, arguably
most importantly, how this relates to their experience with advertising and
the resulting benefit to advertisers.

Consumers choose the magazines they read in
the same way they choose their friends. They look for a high level of
connection through shared experience, interests and aspirations. The magazines
they read are described as ‘my magazine’, so the relationship is deeply emotional
and, therefore, personal.

This is well summarised by The Reader’s Perspective (National Magazine

  1. The reader has his/her
    perception of what type of person he/she wants to be
  2. When a magazine closely chimes
    with self image, there is a high level of identification with the chosen
    magazine. There is a feeling of ownership, an informed friend.
  3. There grows a sense that “my
    magazine helps me to become the person I want to be”. Magazines are therefore
    aspirational, enabling.
  4. The reader feels “I therefore
    have a powerful trusting relationship with my magazine”.

The close personal connection translates to
the way readers consume magazine content. FIPP
Proof of Performance (July 2012)
describes the readership experience as
creating a “private bubble”, protecting the reader from distraction.

“It was
generally an intensely personal moment. The reader was utterly absorbed in the
magazine. Demands on one’s time could be forgotten for a moment… The magazine
would always be there when they had a moment, to talk to them for as long as
they could spare… The satisfaction obtained was analogous to eating a favourite

As a result, time is put aside to read magazines. In the
last Nielsen CMI release*, average time spent reading a single issue was 42.1
minutes, increasing to 71.2 minutes for primary readers. Counter to perception,
magazine readership is an activeexperience as the act of reading requires full attention, so we are focused, meaning
media multi-tasking is limited. A third
(33 percent) of the population do nothing else when reading a magazine*.

The act of magazine reading is not an
isolated incident. Magazines are picked up by readers on multiple occasions. In
New Zealand, the average issue pick up is 3.4 times*. Unlike broadcast media,
consumers are free to dwell on features of interest for as long or as many
times as desired. Pages can be cut out and kept, or as content migrates onto
digital platforms, book marked and reshared with friends via social media.

The logical conclusion is that the flood of
positive emotional connection and engagement should flow on to advertisers.
Unsurprisingly, there are numerous studies that demonstrate that high
interaction in magazines results in enhanced communication of advertising
messages and resulting action. There is a famous study conducted by
Starcom in the US where consumers were asked to tear out ten pages from their
favourite magazines, which represented the essence of the magazine and three of the ten pages were advertisements.

The relationship between magazines, readers
and advertisers is unique. As titles are chosen by readers to match their own
personalities and interests, so, more often than not, advertisers choose to be
there as the title reflects either the product or the brand attributes. Ads are
therefore well targeted and well received by consumers. This is strongly
evidenced in MPA Australia’s Media
study. Advertising is seen as appealing and attractive (58 percent),
useful (50 percent) and relevant (44 percent), which means ad avoidance is minimal, with only
19 percent saying they avoid ads, compared to 67 percent on television.

For the average ad, 90 percent or more readers are
exposed to it, as their eyes are physically open in front of the page#.

Ultimately, it’s the resulting action
arising from magazine readership that is most compelling. In New Zealand:

  • 76 percent of readers will talk to
    someone about something they’ve read in a magazine
  • 60 percent will visit a website to
    find out more
  • 55 percent will actually buy something
    they’ve seen

The role magazines play in nudging people
along the path to purchase is important. This is a virtuous circle: consumers make a highly personal decision
with the magazines they choose, which forms a trust-based relationship. This
trust flows through to advertisers, who generally reflect the same aspirations
and attributes as both magazine and reader. The resulting triumvirate creates a
drive to find out more about a product, share with friends and ultimately drive
to purchase.

Which is very valuable indeed.

  • Katrina Horton is commercial director of the Magazine Publishers Association.

* Nielsen Consumer and Media Insights (Q4
2011-Q3 2012)

# FIPP Proof of Performance, 2011

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