Magazine boss attacks ‘illogical’ gap in ad spend

Media agencies are allocating magazines just half the share of advertising spending that the medium receives in the UK, the new chairman of Magazine Publishers Australia has complained.

Acknowledging the tough economic market, Matt Stanton – who also runs Bauer Media – told a media event to relaunch the MPA: “I don’t understand why the UK is on 8% while we are only on 4%. Agency spend has declined at double the rate of consumer spending. It does not make logical sense to us. It’s a mystery to us and something we need to look at.”

Recent years have seen organised marketing of the medium almost non existent. For a while ACP, now rebadged as Bauer after changing ownership, withdrew from the MPA and the organisation went into hibernation. In November last year, former MPA chairman Nick Chan, who runs Pacific Magazines, told a Magazine Week Mumbrella Question Time session: “We’ve done a shit job at marketing ourselves.”

Last month former Freeview marketer Robin Parkes was announced as the MPA’s new executive director. The MPA was originally launched 17 years ago.

Stanton said at the event that the MPA would be working to remind the market of the strengths of the medium. He said: “Engagement levels are very high. There’s an opportunity for us to tell the story better than we have been. It’s completely undercooked. We will find a very scientific way of how we go to market.”

Chan had a similar message about the positives of magazines at the session, saying: “”When you think about magazines and the future, think beyond technology, beyond the rational. We provide an experience that goes beyond ink on paper. Magazines touch people, magazines make people feel good, and magazines let you belong.”

Also speaking at the event was NewsLifeMedia CEO Nicole Sheffield who said that the debate would move on from print versus digital. She said: “In five years time digital will be dead. Remember in the 80s when everyone was talking about multimedia CD Roms? I don’t think we are in the business of paper – we are in the business of inspiring people.”

Next year will see the MPA launch a new trade marketing campaign.

Parkes said: “As an industry, magazines have been pretty quiet in the last few years and focussed on internal issues.

“The relaunch of the MPA signifies the renewed commitment of the three major publishers to the industry, and for improved transparency and unity on the industry issues that count.”


  1. Chaos
    31 Oct 12
    7:46 am

  2. There are three main causes for magazine’s low share of advertising revenue:

    1. Most of the people in media agencies do very little to understand who the consumer is that they really should be targeting, let alone how those people that they are targeting really consume media, preferring to utilise gross readership numbers than drilling down further. Nor do they understand the real value of magazines is in the type of ‘relationship’ and ‘influence’ they have with their readers – and that this alters by masthead and genre.

    2. Roy Morgan Research recently demonstrated in their Technology presentation newspaper masthead growth over the past 5 years. Publishers have not come to grips with how to sell their ‘masthead’. Instead of separating out the individual streams (e.g. online versus printed versus television versus mobile versus iPad) they should be looking at the holistic masthead offering with a more streamlined integrated approach. I, for one, will be extremely interested to see what influence Bauer international will have on their newly acquired Australian operation in respect to this.

    3. The quality of ‘selling’ magazines within this market is impacted upon by the lack of sales incentives. Some of the very best reps I have dealt with over the years are hungry. Most sales reps in this market are not truly ‘incentivised’ and are therefore generally less inclined to ‘sell’. Management often forget that if a rep is earning strong commissions that ultimately the publishing house will make a lot more money too! And it is not only magazines that a guilty of forgetting this.

  3. Shamma
    31 Oct 12
    10:45 am

  4. I always felt magazine sales were so far and away superior to other channels … sales people that seemed to reflect the audience, strong knowledge of the category, really clever creative services … which when combined with editors with a knack for giving the audience what they want and great presentation was really powerful …

    About 3-5 years ago this changed, reps became more complacent and frustrated, the quality of the magazines seemed to suffer and most importantly, the industry and those driving it started to believe that they were quickly becoming irrelevant. Shows like the ACP one on Foxtel were living, breathing examples of an industry that maybe was becoming irrelevant … but you’d watch the 7 show on Marie Clare and you could see the effort that went into that brand and its product.

    The challenge for magazines is convincing young media buyers who are wooed by digital bells and whistles that magazines have a place. Magazines struggle to deliver on the ‘make me famous’ media first angle that many media agencies and their staff demand so they can PR it, plus it doesn’t give you click through or post impression data that the buyer can claim resulted in effectiveness … it has too much qual benefit for a quant obsessed market. On top of that, the advertising trade media love talking down magazine circ and talking up big metrics (49 billion Australians watch online video every month etc) which doesn’t help the magazines

  5. Good moron
    31 Oct 12
    1:19 pm

  6. Would the “spend a minimum annual amount with us and get a kickback” arrangement between other large publishers and agencies be diverting spend away from magazines?

    Or maybe there are just too many magazines?

  7. Janine's 41
    31 Oct 12
    8:07 pm

  8. Or maybe it’s just that some of us don’t read mags much any more?

    I only read New Scientist and I have a subscription to it.

    Most other mags – especially Women’s are recycled content that I remember reading when I was 15 years old.

  9. Is Print Dead
    31 Oct 12
    9:13 pm

  10. Moaning at only 4%? The UK churns out some decent reads. .Net Magazine is an example of a fair few. Many UK mag’s are replicated in Oz woefully.

    Lets face it, some print mags will survive; the girlies love their Woman’s Weekly.

    Zoo, FHM and the like however? – do you need one of these mags if you are a teenage boy, when they can go online for a dose of Jackass, Gadget shopping or porn?

    I spoke to a grad yesterday and she said that she had never bought a newspaper and does not have a print magazine subscription. 20 years ago the story would have been different – the times are a changing.