How brands are changing their approach to magazine advertising


Magazine brands are going through a difficult period. Sales are dropping and you only have to look at the latest figures from ABC to see how fast.

Women’s weeklies are particularly in difficulty. Time Inc’s Look circulation declined 35.4% in the first half of 2017, with sales for Woman magazine down 17.6%. Men’s titles, TV shows and publications of interest to the home also saw sharp declines. News and current affairs headlines fared much better, in part because of the tumultuous news agenda – thank you Donald Trump.

At the same time, advertisers seem to be moving away from the medium. Total ad spend was £ 877million in 2016, down 6.8% from 2015 according to AA / Warc figures. He predicts that ad spending will decline a further 8.2% in 2017.

Douglas McCabe, media analyst at Enders, believes the shift is due to a shift in sentiment among advertisers across industries who prefer “brighter” digital platforms. Digital ad spend rose 13.4% in 2016 to reach £ 10.3 billion.

“In digital, magazines have no particular advantage as they do on paper. It is also a manifestation of a very broad evolution towards shorter-term marketing. The benefit of a lot of magazine advertising is that it is highly visual brand marketing, whereas what replaces that expense is direct online advertising, ”he says.

Despite these numbers, magazines still play an important role in the media mix of many brands, and advertisers and publishers are finding new ways to work together. Gone are the days of infomercials, and instead of just putting their creations in the right headlines, many brands are more interested in forming integrated editorial partnerships.

“The starting point for brands has changed and is now based on partnerships. They are much more integrated and better amplified than with a purely advertising partnership, ”explains Sue Todd, CEO of Magnetic.

The rise of partnership

Last year, Shop Direct decided to work with a wide range of women’s titles, including Elle, Cosmopolitan, Heat, Closer, New, Red and Marie Claire, to raise awareness of Very and elevate the brand’s fashion credentials.

Each magazine has developed its own campaign adapted to its audience. As Heat and Closer developed native content in the mag and branded covers, Elle teamed up with Very to “take over” her fashion wardrobe – a permanent space of bricks and mortar. During the takeover, Elle and Very curated the most relevant articles in the V range for its readers, with activity supported by video, print and digital.

She opened a “pop-up” fashion cabinet to allow readers to browse a V collection that had been curated by the magazine’s editors. The pop-up also featured a VIP area, where readers could have one-on-one styling sessions with the Elle fashion team.

The beauty of a lot of magazine advertising is that it is very visual brand marketing, whereas what replaces that expense is direct online advertising.

Douglas McCabe, Enders

When asked why Very still invests in magazine titles, brand manager Becky Hardman told Marketing Week that she “always wants to go where her customers are” and magazines always offer “a great reach “as well as credibility.

She adds that the company’s most successful campaigns have been those where magazine titles sought to “push their own boundaries beyond what they’ve done before” to deliver innovative, consumer-centric work.

“When we’ve worked with the same editorial teams for a few different projects, the campaigns just get better and better. We communicate better, which leads to better creative ideas and more impact for the client, ”she says.

Mix print and digital

There is also an increased appetite among brands to reach people beyond the print format by creating bespoke digital campaigns. Not On The High Street wanted to broaden its appeal to a more diverse clientele as Christmas approached. Original content was his top priority.

‘Gift Like An Editor’ was developed as an umbrella concept, which saw the editors of the titles of Hearst Country Living, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar and Red, each curating the most relevant gifts from Not On The High Street for their readers. All products have also been photographed by Hearst’s content studio, to ensure they match each individual brand.

And this tailor-made approach has apparently paid off. The brand claims to have seen a 100% increase in basket size, made £ 358,000 in revenue from sales of ‘Gift Like An Editor’ campaign products and reached over 2.5 million people on social media .

Other brands prefer to take the traditional print format and see if they can give it a 21st century makeover. Earlier this month, mobile operator Three decided to combine digital and print by creating a print cover video as part of its “Go Binge” campaign.

Three paid to produce 500 special covers of the weekly Time Out magazine, giving readers the opportunity to stream behind-the-scenes footage from the new Netflix show “Glow.”

Jolene Sickelmore, head of communications and execution at Three UK, says print is still an attractive proposition because of its “huge reach” against its target audience of young urban commuters. Time Out currently distributes approximately 300,000 free magazines every week.

“However, we didn’t want to look at standard printing options – in light of our pioneering nature, we really wanted to put the accessory in people’s hands and show the UK what it’s like to be. a Three customer. We worked with [Time Out] for six months to bring this project to life logistically, ”she says.

“Publishers provide a great opportunity to do this with a loyal readership and distribution. Ultimately, the more innovative and exciting idea editors can explore with us, the better.

When asked if Three would continue to invest in print despite its declining circulation, Sickelmore insists traditional publishers will remain “a massive part” of the partners it works with, despite a growing digital presence.

She concludes: “As many magazine and print publishers invest in their online offerings, we will continue to appreciate them for the strong and reliable content environment they can provide. If you look at telecoms as a category, competitors continue to spend here as well and we believe print can play a big role in the buying journey, as well as big brand awareness.

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