MEDIA: United front battles to boost magazines

Nine months ago, the Periodical Publishers Association, faced with a declining share of ad revenue for magazines, announced a project in which top publishers would put aside old rivalries and pitch for the industry as a whole.

Nine months ago, the Periodical Publishers Association, faced with a

declining share of ad revenue for magazines, announced a project in

which top publishers would put aside old rivalries and pitch for the

industry as a whole.



The idea was to have the likes of the National Magazine Company, Conde

Nast and IPC in one room, telling clients why they should be putting

more of their budget into magazines.



It was an initiative designed to do what the Radio Advertising Bureau

has done for commercial radio; alert advertisers to the potential of the

medium.



But there has been recent speculation that the scheme is floundering,

that not enough pitches have taken place, and that the egos of competing

sales and advertising directors are getting in the way of a united

offensive.



Campaign results



Despite all that, the PPA is adamant that the campaign is alive and

kicking and getting results. It says the association has helped nurture

a number of meetings between top names in magazines and blue-chip

companies.



Publishers IPC, G&J and Bauer have canvassed firms such as SmithKline

Beecham, which traditionally rely on TV advertising.



PPA chief executive Ian Locks admits that the scheme may have moved

slower than planned, and there have been scheduling problems in getting

different magazine sales chiefs together.



But he is quick to point out that there is no instant remedy: ‘It is

taking longer than we initially hoped. It is true that some are becoming

impatient. They’re not quick-fix visits. We’re asking big advertisers,

largely committed to TV, to reconsider their policies.’



He says big players in the magazine industry have been keen to back the

scheme because they need to reverse their diminishing share of national

ad spend. In 1994, consumer magazines had a 6.6% share of total national

ad revenue and in 1995 this fell to 6.5%. Locks puts this down to ‘a

bigger cake and more market players’.



TV and radio advertising are seen by clients and agencies as having an

immediate and broad impact. Monthly magazines are useful for brand-

building exercises, but are not particularly relevant for price-

promotion exercises.



Richard Britton, non-broadcast director for CIA Medianetwork explains:

‘Magazines have physical limitations preventing them getting that

business. However, magazines, like cinema, have a captive audience. When

your message is prolonged, you gain some degree of sustainability.’



One sector which Britton says magazines should target is financial

services. A source inside one leading financial service company, said

he would like his company to consider a mix that would include

magazines, but the board preferred the more traditional TV and poster

campaigns.



TMD Carat director Neil Jones says: ‘Magazines are an extension of TV

advertising. People generally trust what they see in magazines.

Advertorials are a good growth sector.’



Long-term investment



While Nick Handley, ad sales director for the Reader’s Digest, claims he

is already seeing a revenue boost from his efforts with other magazine

publishers, Mike Baker, divisional advertising and marketing director at

IPC, believes the pay-off will be long-term. But Baker is pleased there

is improved co-operation within the magazine industry.



Handley says that the meetings have been a learning process for magazine

ad sales directors. ‘It’s been an opportunity for clients to talk after

the presentations about their feelings concerning consumer magazines,

and where they think things could be improved to make us more cost

effective.’



The PPA has a lot of work to do, if it is to live up to the precedent

set by the radio industry. Damian Blackden, Zenith Media’s press

director, draws inevitable comparisons. ‘The PPA’s initiative appears to

have suffered from a lack of resources and objectivity. The RAB and

Newspaper Society employ individuals specifically to promote, add

credibility and build awareness of their media.’



Advertising in the magazine sector



* Magazine publishers who are canvassing for more magazine advertising

revenue include: IPC, Conde Nast, Emap, National Magazines, BBC, Hello,

Reader’s Digest, Redwood, Haymarket Magazines, G & J, H Bauer.



* TV advertising dominated ad revenue in 1995, with a 32.1% share, while

consumer magazines accounted for 6.5% and business/ professional

magazines 11.3%. In 1993, TV had a slightly bigger stake with 32.7%,

while business/ professional magazines had just 10.5% of total ad

revenue.



* The increase in print prices has slightly lowered the national

newspapers’ stake from 18% in 1993 to 17.6% in 1995.



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