Marketers urged to see past print decline

Magazine publishers are urging marketers to look past the decline in print sales, as reported by the latest ABC audit, as the publishing industry predicts 2012 will be the year digital boosts circulation.


The UK consumer magazine business suffered slightly during the second half of last year. Total average circulation for the six-month period to December 31 2011 fell by 1.4% compared to the same period in the previous year, hit by a 1.3% decline in the key women’s lifestyle category.

James Papworth, marketing director at the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) is confident that despite the decline, the emergence of new media platforms will provide greater opportunities to drive readers back to core print products.

He says: “Publishers are waking up to the fact that they need to build 360 media strategies, with print at the core if they’re to expand the reach of their brands through advertising revenues.”
The number of magazines reporting sales figures for their digital editions grew 400%, from 16 to 72. Men’s Health has the biggest circulation with 7,779 accessing each issue digitally (see below).

Papworth points to “innovation and creativity” as the driving force behind the uptake in digital, particularly with the introduction of online portals Apple Newsstand and Yahoo’s Livestand last year.

Jackie Newcombe, managing director of IPC Southbank, says digital platforms are “exciting” but neither consumers or advertisers are ready for a total switch. More opportunities, she adds, lay in multi-platform events.

Newcombe adds: “We’re increasingly working with advertisers and retailers on organised events. When we set up an event we know that we can deliver our readers [to it] and our commercial partners know their products are going to sell via the relationship we’ve built in print.”

Paul Keenan, chief executive of Bauer Media, says magazine brands will continue to build strategies around their core print titles, but adds that new platforms will place a greater focus on tailored content.

He adds: “Advertisers don’t see barriers they just see business and that’s how we have to deliver our solutions.”

Amid the overall decline in magazine circulation, news and current bucked the trend with total circulation rising by 12.3% year-on-year. Top performers were satirical magazine Private Eye, which had a circulation of 228,112 for the last half of 2011, while Dennis Publishing’s The Week was up 2.1% for the same period with 187,536 copies.

Other magazine sectors to report circulation growth include teenage lifestyle, which was up 28%, pre-school, which includes titles such as Egmont Publishing’s Disney and Me and Immediate Media’s Cbeebies Art, rose by 10% while women’s slimming, was up by 6.8%.

Total Average Net Circulation for digital editions

Men’s health (NatMag) 7,779
T3 (Future) 7,327
GQ (Conde Nast) 5,731
Cosmopolitan (Hearst) 5,675
Men’s Fitness (Dennis) 3,987
Esquire (Hearst) 3,745
McUser (Dennis) 3,648
Stuff (Haymarket) 3,630
Wired (Conde Nast) 3,190
Total Film (Future) 2,910

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