Magazines overspill into Europe

Media owners, facing saturated UK markets, are eyeing the rest of Europe for ad revenue.

Magazines are flourishing. Total expenditure on display advertising will reach $180bn (117bn) this year – double the 1985 figure.

Expenditure on consumer magazines alone has risen from $16bn (10bn) to a predicted $25bn (16bn) over the same period, according to a recent report from Carat.

The number of magazines continues to rise steadily. In Europe, there are more than 39,000 titles, 10,000 of which are considered “key” by advertisers. Growth continues to be rapid. In 1993 alone 3,000 trade and technical titles and 2,000 consumer magazines were launched.

But press advertising in general has been hit by the recession, growing competition from other media – notably broadcasting – and more recently, soaring paper costs.

Newspapers have suffered a reduction in classified ads, but a reduction in print’s share of total ad expenditure poses a greater threat to magazines.

Even so, print still dominates many national markets. Last year, magazines took a 22 per cent share of all ad expenditure in Europe, compared with newspapers’ 27 per cent. But though newspapers and magazines together take 49 per cent of total display expenditure in Europe, in ten of the 16 major markets the figure is more than 50 per cent.

Magazine advertising is more established in some markets than others, the Carat report shows.

In the Asia-Pacific region, magazines take only a seven per cent share of display advertising, whereas the figure is 14 per cent in North America and 21 per cent in Europe. In Ireland, magazine ad expenditure is, on average, $5 (3.2) per head per year; in Germany it is $48 (31).

National markets are also characterised by distinct differences in advertising, buying practices and readership patterns.

The Carat report says that whereas 30 per cent of British males admit to reading women’s magazines, in Greece only eight per cent do so.

Tastes in television guides are equally polarised. These are read by 12 per cent of Swedish women but by 84 per cent of females in Austria.

“For the advertiser, this means it is simply not possible to buy 200 gross rating points (GRPs) across different European markets and expect to get the same results,” says Carat head of European research Kerry Jonas.

“For example, in Spain 200 GRPs in women’s monthlies would result in 25 per cent coverage of the market, but it would give you more than 40 per cent in France and Germany.”

Yet all European markets have one thing in common: they are geographical new business areas for foreign publishers. Faced by approaching saturation in their domestic markets, media owners are looking further afield. It is a trend likely to continue.

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