Magazine industry to launch marketing agency to talk up value to brands

The UK’s biggest publishers are to launch an agency to promote the merits of advertising in magazines to brands and agencies as they look to arrest declining revenue. 

Magazine publishers back body to promote the merits of advertising in magazines.

The as yet unnamed organisation will operate in a similar manner to bodies such as Thinkbox, Newsworks and the Radio Advertising Bureau, which market the efficiency and effectiveness of TV, newspaper and radio advertising respectively through research and campaigns.

The body will be independent of the Professional Publisher’s Association (PPA) but report to the PPA board. It is currently recruiting for staff and is expected to launch after the summer.

To now the job of marketing the value of magazines to advertisers and brands has been left to the PPA but it is hoped a purpose-built agency will be able to better promote what magazines can offer.

News of the launch of the agency was announced at the PPA’s annual conference in London today (22 May). Speaking on a panel of publishers and agencies discussing magazine advertising, the chief executive of Cannes Lions and former managing director of FHM Phil Thomas said it was time for publishers to “put the knives to one side” and follow the lead of other media channels in presenting a united front to advertisers.

“It is time to realise that mobile and other media is the competition not each other. Mobile [through the Mobile Marketing Agency] works together on a global level and that’s what magazines should do.”

Recent data from the Advertising Association and WARC found advertising spend across all media grew 3.9 per cent in 2013 and is forecast to quicken to 5.5 per cent in 2014. By contrast, magazine ad revenue dipped 5.7 per cent in 2013 and is tipped to drop by 2.2 per cent this year.

Speaking on the same panel as Thomas, Bauer Media’s managing director of advertising Richard Dunmall said it was important publishers “shifted the goal posts” by talking of the opportunities magazines provide or coverage will be dominated by falling circulation and revenue.  

“There needs to be change of narrative otherwise the conversation of decline becomes self-fulfilling,” he added. 

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