Archive for November, 2014

Digital Magazines are an Integral Lifestyle Choice

Magazine readers are very influenced by the format, whether in print or digital format. They seek out magazines learn about new products, get inspired to try new things and improve their lives in many ways. Magazine content, whether editorials, articles or advertisements, is trusted by readers to give accurate information that is informative and touching in a visceral level. People trust magazines to reflect their own personal lifestyles.

Exactly because magazines are a trusted source of information, magazine advertisements are highly relevant to customers and highly lucrative for advertisers.

Magazine ads consistently offer relevant advertising within a relevant context, generally associated with a specific editorial genre. Readers associate the information gleaned from magazines as relevant content and educational material. People talk with each other about what they have read and learned from magazines, and they tend to get ideas for other areas of their lives from the advertisements that they see, giving the ads more “stick”. In both print and digital formats, readers are lead to affiliated websites. Digital magazines are best at engaging readers in an immersive experience, and most readers follow embedded links in articles and ads.


Consumers often see print and digital magazine editions ahead of websites as the best resources to learn about new products or services. Print magazine readers look forward to receiving their magazines in the mail. According to Magazines Canada, a typical print issue is read the same day it is received by 43% of readers; 77% begin reading their magazine within the first three days; and 92% within that first week. 58% of digital magazine readers begin reading an issue the same day it is received.

People often read to the same pages multiple times as they scan through and read a magazine many times over the life of the issue and beyond. Consumers enjoy taking their time while reading magazines. It is estimated that magazine advertisements are seen more than once by the same person in the same issue.

Magazines Canada’s Consumer Magazine Factbook 2014 states that 62% of magazine readers take action after exposure to specific magazine ads. Whether it’s visiting a website, a store or a dealer or having gained a more favorable opinion about the advertiser, magazine readers respond to magazine ads and with action, whether it’s making a purchase or seeking out further information. A great aspect of magazines in general is that magazine content drives response. The content is seen as a trusted authority on their subject. More than 50% of magazine readers make a purchase based on an ad in their favorite print or digital magazine.

Getting the Most from your Magazine Advertising

Magazines Canada ( published an interesting guide titles Magazine Essentials: making the most of magazines. They have compiled an assortment of answers to the most common questions asked by media planners, and it is good information for anyone planning to publish a print or digital magazine.

Some interesting facts and observations are:

  • The physical size of the page does not affect readership. This is most important to know for print publishers, but the fact that page size is not a general concern to magazine readers is meaningful for digital publishers also. Format does not have to be the defining factor of a publication.
  • Color ads have more impact than black and white, which is almost a non-issue these days, and left-hand and right-hand positioning within the publication does not seem to be of consequence.
  • Ads are effective throughout the publication, with only the inside-front, inside-back and outside-back covers having a measurable difference in effectiveness.
  • Cover spreads and ad size does have an impact on ad effectiveness.
  • Multi-page ads (a series of ads in direct succession) does increase the impact of all ads in the series.
  • Advertorials, also now known as curated content, are very effective in delivering new products and information to consumers.
  • Premium offers with interactive elements increase ad impact
  • “Creative wear out” is a term used to define the point at which an advertisement begins to lose the ability to achieve the objective intended by the advertiser. This does not seem to be a problem. Research suggests that the ‘active process of reading’ plus the ability to spend as much time as the reader wishes with an ad, helps ensure communication of detailed ad messages
  • Headlines are a very important part of an article or advertisement. The color of the headline, the position on the page, the number of words used and whether the headline is positive or negative all have significant effects on reader “stick”.
  • Picture size matters and photos pull better than illustrations. Interestingly, the size of the actual product shot does not have much of an impact.
  • The less body copy within the ad, the greater the impact the ad will have.
  • The size of a product name in an ad can have an effect on reader recall and recognition.
  • Also interesting, and counter-intuitive, is the finding that the number of brand mentions in an ad has little impact on recognition.


The most important factors in creating appealing, effective advertisements for digital and print magazines are very similar. Basically, the most effective magazine ads are created specifically for magazines. High visual appeal maximizes stopping power and maintains consumer involvement in the ad. While magazines are great for communicating a long or detailed message, leave that for articles and editorials. Visual simplicity promotes interest in advertisements.

The three most important measures of the success or failure of an advertisement are:

  1. The size of the audience that remembered seeing the ad.
  2. The number of people who looked at the ad long enough to learn what brand was being advertised.

Whether or not the ad was strong enough to pull the reader through most of the ad.

A Canadian Magazine Publishing Snapshot

Magazines Canada, at recently published the 2014 Consumer Magazine Fact Book, which explores in depth the state of the print magazine publishing industry in Canada. The statistics quoted here are taken from the Fact Book. Their Digital Fact Book will be published in the near future. What affects the printed magazine industry also matters to digital publishing as a whole. The old and new mediums in many instances are working to find ways to work with and improve the successes of each other, and the greater publishing industry will benefit.

Both print and digital magazine media are crucial platforms in reaching consumers. While many of the same trends are applicable for the US and Canadian markets, there are some that are unique to Canada.


At 100 consumer magazines per capita, Canadians have access to more consumer magazine titles than most other developed countries in the world, and they do love their magazines. The magazine publishing industry as a whole has remained relatively stable over the past seven years. An interesting statistic and glowing testament to the appeal of print magazines, according to the Fact Book, more than half of all magazine titles available in Canada today were launched after the internet became commercially available in 1989.

The top 10 magazine advertising categories account for three quarters of total magazine ad spending, as measured by Leading National Advertisers (2013). Toiletries and Toilet Goods was the largest category in 2013, followed by Retail Stores, Business & Consumer Services, Food & Food Products and Drugs & Remedies. Magazine readership remains strong across all demographics, reaching Canadians in virtually every life phase. Despite the adoption of digital platforms, readers age 12-24 read almost as much as the average magazine reader.

Good news for advertisers, college students read magazines regularly, with 90% reading a magazine in the past month. They also visit websites, purchase products seen advertised in a magazine and use magazine coupons, promotions or other specials. With the recent and developing mixing of digital and print media, the opportunities for advertisers and industry to reach out broadly is increasing greatly. Students age 18-24 still prefer reading their favorite magazines in print (93%) with reading on websites, smartphones, online-only editions and tablet editions increasing. Advertisers love the magazine format because magazines are read consistently throughout the year, and they can be counted upon to deliver effective brand presence and efficient message continuity, connecting brand purchase cycles when consumers are most ready to buy. Consumers who buy and read Specialty Magazines are typically affluent, with disposable income to buy advertised brands. Advertising campaigns where businesses allocate more ad dollars to magazines in the media mix improves marketing and advertising ROI. In this age of short attention spans and multi-tasking, time spent reading and “average degree of interest” scores are right now consistent across all measured magazines, according to the PMB (Print Measurement Bureau).

What the Trend Away From Print Means

According to the annual PricewaterhouseCoopers report on digital advertising, global digital consumer magazine advertising revenue will be US$12.4bn in 2018, rising at a 17.6% CAGR (compound annual growth rate). This compares to a decline of -3.9% CAGR for consumer magazine print advertising revenue. At this point in the digital transformation, most magazine advertising is centered on magazine websites, which is often used just to get people to subscribe to the digital edition. As digital circulations increase and become the preferred reading medium, electronic editions will become increasingly popular for advertisers.

According to, spending on digital advertising is expected to dramatically increase to $3.8 billion in 2017, when it will represent a quarter of overall advertising, up from $2.4 billion in 2012.  Customers who actually purchase digital content will also increase from $275 million in 2012 to $1.4 billion in 2017.

On the down side, the percentage shift to digital advertising is almost directly proportional to the rate of decline in the print industry. In 2008, a record 9.8 billion was spent on print advertising, fell to $7.9 billion in 2012, and is expected to diminish further to $6.4 billion in 2017.

The questions that digital magazine publishers must ask are: how is consumer behavior changing, and how should digital publishers and advertisers respond to this changing behavior.

The obvious and growing number of people who are switching from the printed page to the Internet for information and entertainment is increasing exponentially. In order to succeed and prosper in this new digital reality, magazine publishers and media buyers must respond.

At present the majority of consumers still prefer to read print copies of magazines, but an increasing number, especially younger readers, are also interested in reading and viewing digital content, including videos, interactive surveys and quizzes.

Because of the early pay models (or lack of pay models) in digital publishing, consumers now expect to pay more for printed content than for content distributed electronically. This trend is changing, but it takes time to change customer expectations and educate them that they are getting value in digital format. Research suggests that customers are seldom prepared to pay more than half the amount they would pay for a printed magazine.

Often the consumer thinks that digital-only content is a substitute for printed content. It is incumbent upon digital publishers to create digital-specific content and add value to digital offerings by giving the reader an immersive, responsive experience.

Magazine publishers that are succeeding in the digital space are those that have recognized that digital media require different business models from those they have developed to support their traditional print operations. An important component for success in the digital environment is using customer metrics in an effective way. The old adage “know your customer” has never been truer, and fortunately the technology is available to do so in a big way.


Allocating Resources in the Digital Publishing Environment

The digital publishing industry is growing and changing at an impressive rate. While the rapid evolution of the medium and its technology creates many opportunities to monetize it and create new profit centers, so many choices can create confusion.

How can digital publisher and advertisers decide where to allocate their resources effectively?

The choices can be overwhelming. Data analytics, surveys and quizzes, paid content, native advertising, programmatic advertising, product development, tablets, e-commerce, smartphones, time-based advertising, etc., etc., etc.

Audience analytics are an exciting venue for digital publishers and advertisers because of the opportunities for targeted marketing and immediate feedback and proof-of-concept that the data provides. Reader insights are invaluable for monetization through target marketing and curated content.

Embedding advertising into content, informally known as “advertorials” in traditional print media, is another growing component in digital publishing advertising. Publishers are embedding curated content into their news content and their calls to action create new venues for monetization. By focusing on customer engagement and mapping the customer journey, digital magazine publishers and advertisers are better able to understand where and how their customers want to engage with their products. Content marketing and conversion rate optimization should be digital marketing priorities for publishers, as well as social media engagement. The ability of digital publishers and advertisers to promote their products and services by advertising in non-traditional ways will be key to success in the new environment.

The trend is that ad spending is decreasing in legacy media and is being overtaken by digital formats. According to the recently published 2014-2015 World Digital Media Factbook, published by FIPP Insight ( desktop Internet ad spending recently increased from 18.1% to 19.5%.

Unsurprisingly, the survey found that the fastest growing device from which to access the Internet is the mobile phone, according to figures measuring the 2011-2013 period, followed by the tablet. Desktop computer usage is experiencing a continued decline.

Digital publishers and advertisers are constantly seeking to define and leverage reader engagement in an attempt to increase advertising revenues, higher “stick” times on content (including editorial and advertising) and more efficient targeting to consumers interested in engaging in their content.

During 2014, mobile advertising, native advertising, paid content and e-commerce, have all emerged as formats with strong growth opportunities. Spending on mobile advertising is increasing quickly, with in-app content leading the way. Media companies should plan their business strategies to take advantage of the opportunities emerging from the expanding digital media landscape.