Opinion

Ad agencies need to rethink their anti-magazine bias

Agencies and advertisers need to overcome their doom-mongering attitude towards magazines and rethink the role they play in the media mix, explains Magazine Networks' Mary Ann Azer.

There’s currently an irrational bias against print magazines in the Australian market.

In the US and the UK, magazines attract around 5-6% of advertising spend, but here in Australia, the number is closer to 2-3%. This is despite the fact that the audience is still there.

In fact, more people read the Australian Women’s Weekly than watch some news and current affairs programs, with the latest EMMA readership figures showing a cross-platform audience of 1,920,000 for the title.

However, you wouldn’t know it based on the May SMI figures, which showed TV ad spend was almost $280 million compared to just $11.6 million for magazines.

This bias is particularly strong for media agency staff with the amount of industry buzz around digital distracting them from the benefits of other channels such as magazine brands.

Azer: “Most advertising is becoming wallpaper”

The truth of that matter is that today’s consumer is bombarded with more choices than ever. Most advertising is becoming wallpaper, and the issues of transparency and brand safety plaguing programmatically-served advertising indicate a need for change.

The time has come to rethink the role of magazines in the media mix.

The right combination

I’m well aware that it would be a rare marketer that chooses to advertise their brand in just one channel. While publishers and media owners champion the benefits of their offering, they’d be bullish to think advertisers are going to hand over their entire budgets to them and them alone.

There’s great benefit in selecting the right combination of channels and according to a recent study commissioned by Magazine Networks, including print magazines in the mix drives sales.

The study found brands that include print magazines in the media mix see a 22% uplift in brand trust, a 55% increase in brand favourability and a 29% lift in purchase intent.

To drill down further, the combination of print magazines with out-of-home makes people 3.2 times more likely to identify the brand as one they want to find out more about and delivers a 43% increase in their likelihood to purchase.

Adding magazines to radio sees people 2.1 times more likely to view the brand as engaging and interesting. The combination of print mags and online sees people 2.6 times more likely to recommend the brand to others while print magazines and TV make people 1.9 times more likely to consider a brand as one of their favourites. Finally, combining magazines and newspapers sees people 9.2 times more likely to identify a brand as one they want to find out more about.

The real benefit of magazines

Earlier this month, independent research consultant Marius Cloete told WARC that media planners have a one-dimensional view of magazines. He urged them to take another look at the medium noting: “Magazines have a vital role to play in generating a sales uplift in both the short and long term.”

Cloete added that studies have found the immersive nature of print magazines to stimulate the key drivers of long-term memory encoding: narrative, emotion and personal relevance.

Our own research tells us that magazines are also an effective way to reach people of influence with magazine readers 38% more likely to post on social media, 17% more likely to tell others about new brands and 36% more likely to place importance on brand choices. Even better, they are cashed up, spending 40% more on their interests than the average Australian.

Based on these findings, including magazines in a media buy makes good business sense.

Magazine buyers are spend-happy people, according to Anzer

Of course, we’re not alone in encouraging advertisers to consider how the channel combines with other advertising activities. Earlier this month Val Morgan released a research study highlighting the value of cinema in the mix.

The study touts the value of cinema’s added reach and cites CineTAM data that shows 90 million visits were made to Australian cinemas in the last 12 months. But how many of those visitors came late to skip the ads or spent the moments before the film catching up on social media ignoring the big screen pre-show altogether?

Unlike cinema, ads are genuinely a part of the experience when consuming print magazines. From high-end fashion magazines to home and lifestyle publications, a reader is just as likely to linger on an ad in print as they are an editorial feature. In fact, a recent study conducted on behalf of Magazine Networks found higher claimed attention is paid to advertising in print magazines over other channels.

While there’s no denying reach matters, its importance is superseded by the ability of magazines to delivery highly engaged and targeted audiences.

I’m not suggesting agencies only advertise in magazines. As a former marketer myself, I understand that the right way to plan media is to start with the target audience but as the number one medium consumers turn to for advice on brands and products, advertisers cannot afford to overlook magazines.

Mary Ann Azer is the executive director of magazine industry body Magazine Networks

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