Magazines’ hearts continue to beat

Kelly Northwood, CEO at TSA.

It’s a fact, New Zealanders love their magazines. Recent studies have found that per capita New Zealand has the largest number of magazine publications of any country in the world. Numbers like this haven’t gone without disruption and many publishers have been tempted by the digital adventure.

Online alternatives may appear at first glance economically attractive and offer insightful engagement analytics, however, with Google reporting that 56 percent of digital ads are never seen by human eyes, actual engagement remains low. Distractive interference from excessive pop-up ads and sidebars, not to mention the shortening focus span of readers via digital screens, is showing readers switching off in digital environments.

In the book sector, the decline in ebooks sales and the rise of the printed version has been attributed to the growing phenomenon labelled – ‘digital fatigue’. Similarly, the print magazine sector remains dynamic as shown through the launch of new print titles like Paperboy or Nadia last October, or the return to print after a ‘digital break’ by Grazia.

Magazines deliver the best return on ad spend

Nielsen’s study into advertising returns has published its findings and the clear message they are giving media buyers is that magazines deliver the best return on ad spend.

The global study of consumer packaged goods advertising found an average return of $3.94 for every dollar spent on magazine advertising, putting the print platform no less than 50% above display advertising, its nearest rival, which commanded a return of just $2.63.

“The NCS data set integrates 90 million households of in-store purchase data, with each of the media platforms in a single source to determine the incremental sales impact of advertising,” Nielsen explained in the report’s accompanying press release.

The study used new methodology to measure the impact of “secondary print magazine audiences” – ‘passalong’ customers in the same household or workplace who read magazines after the first reader has finished with them – have on sales.

“This new approach provides the ability to measure cross-media impact and captures print magazines’ total audience, allowing publishers to accurately compare print magazines’ contribution to sales versus other media.”

The news was greeted enthusiastically by publishers such as Caryn Klein of Time Inc. who said, “With the inclusion of secondary audience impact, it now places print on an equal playing field with other media and we can unequivocally prove the importance of including print in the mix, given the strong ROAS that it provides for our marketing partners.”

The study looked at products across seven categories – baby, pet, health and beauty, general merchandise, food, beverage, and over-the-counter products. Intriguingly, digital video, which has attracted an increasing amount of ad expenditure in recent years, showed the lowest ROAS at just $1.53 – less than 40 percent of the figure magazines achieved.

The authors of the study were quick to point out that “ROAS is impacted by the cost of the media”, and when considering incremental sales per exposed household, linear TV performed best, while mobile drove the highest incremental sales per thousand impressions. But in terms of value for money, they fall well short, suggesting that a print magazine campaign is by far the wisest way to spend an advertising budget.

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Acknowledgement of our over-stimulated society has led to a new wave of magazines surfacing across New Zealand that have the intent to help readers slow down. Marketers know that loyal print magazine readers invest time and concentration, providing an opportunity for a lengthy conversation and a real connection with the content. With magazine readers themselves stating that they are 84 percent more engaged when reading a magazine versus interacting with online or television content – it’s a good place to start.

In February, Lovatts Media, the puzzle magazine publisher, launched in Australia and New Zealand a new print magazine titled Breathe that encourages their readers to “Breathe and take time for yourself.” Its content is focused on mindfulness, creativity and taking time out and is laid out in an artwork with wide spreads of pastel colouring. This is an intelligently and beautifully designed

The colour palette is considered and aligning with neuroscience that shows pastels encourage slower consumption and relaxing thought sequences. “In a world shouting that we need to buy more, want more, be more. Breathe is about remembering to live mindfully and creatively, and it delivers practical advice and activities to help you do this,” says publisher Rachael Northey. To get you started, the magazine also provides paper pull-out arts and crafts activities, emphasising the tactile nature of magazines.

In Melbourne, Australia, the independent publication jane. was launched with a similar ethos. The publication is a biannual fashion mag shot entirely on film and printed on paper with the aim to
“revert back to slower processes that nurture and encourage the slow creation and consumption of art.”

The co-founders and editors in chief, Dean Bell and Annika Hein said that “the decision to print and publish only film photography and our preference for analogue processes also provides something different in today’s digital market.” The biannual publication featuring 320 pages of content also aims at countering the idea that print is disposable. The magazine is meant to be kept and consumed slowly, a standout in a busy digital space.

Both magazines are offering a much-needed gateway to ‘switch-off’ and recharge while being treated to beautiful designs and quality content that can be kept and referred to multiple times. Another example of the independent magazine trend is Lindsay, and this is a publication that is taking the same stance of providing a “noise-free” setting to their content, however, they chose to do it… online.

The digital magazine imitates a print lay-out designed to enhance the readers experience with full page high-resolution pictures, no headers or sidebars to distract from the reading, an elegant serif font and a “previous/next” navigation that gives the impression of flicking through the pages of a print issue. This publication has gravitated all the strengths of print and interpreting this in a digital world. The greatest challenge for the digital publishers in this format is the almost absence of critical advertising revenue and the imperative to find new business models.

Nonetheless, the genuine inclusion of a traditional magazine approach is something to watch and determine if indeed digital can replicate the emotionality and tactility of printed publications.

However the content is presented – be it to promote a more tactile and sensory experience with beautiful imagery or to engage in meaningful conversations with their readers, magazines are here
to stay and can offer a perfectly fluid interaction with digital. So, when your hand starts feeling pins and needles as you hold your phone or tap on your keyboard, just keep calm and grab a magazine…

  • This story is part of a content partnership between StopPress and TSA.

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