Digital Publishing
4 mins read

Transformation and trust: why 2018 promises to be a page turner for magazine publishers

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

As 2017 ends and 2018 commences in earnest, we can hear much of the world breathe a collective sigh of relief. Hacking, hurricanes and heated tweeting from a certain high office dominated much of 2017’s headlines. But while Trump’s online bleating’s may have proved disconcerting for many, the President of the United States brought the topic of trust in media to the forefront of the public consciousness.

Within the publishing industry, this era of  ‘fake news’ has brought a core strength of magazine brands to prominence – trust. Magnetic conducted a piece of research with MediaCom, which looked at the at the effects of ‘fake news’ on trust in the media. Supported by similar research from Kantar, we found that magazine brands scored highly on the key measures of reliability, ethics, meaning and experience. Magazine’s relationship with consumers on the aspects that matter most to consumers was underpinned by the fact that 70% of respondents trust magazine media, as opposed to just 30% social media.

We  went on to investigate the ‘brand rub effect’ between advertiser and media brand in our ‘A Matter of Trust’ study with MediaCom. The study found it’s the magazine brand, not the platform, that impacts perceptions of trust – as the brand is what consumers associate with expertise. This is an exciting prospect for magazines as we see the industry enter a period of transformation.

At our Spotlight event in the summer we showcased innovative opportunities available to brands across various magazine media formats. For example the creative and editorial teams at Office and Grazia combined to create a striking, eight-page ‘shoespaper’ which was placed in Grazia, and delivered an uplift of 200% in sales of the featured footwear.

2017 was a year in which magazine brands demonstrated the unique and powerful qualities of magazine media – which is crucial considering the worrying trend towards short-termism in marketing strategy, that we identified in a joint report with Enders in May. We have seen spend shift towards direct response advertising online. Les Binet and Peter Field called out the industry in their report “Media in Focus – Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era”, asking brand owners to strike a better balance between the long term and short term.

We are already seeing evidence of brands beginning to strike this balance – but for many publishers, the challenge is finding the best way for a magazine to be able to embrace digital in a way that works for both the brand and the audience. An example of a brand literally embracing digital is mobile network Three’s partnership with Time Out – where Three paid to produce 500 special digital covers of Time Out’s weekly magazine, giving readers the chance to stream behind-the-scenes footage of the new Netflix show ‘Glow’.

This challenge has also led to the rise of innovative partnerships between brands and magazines brands. For example Elle magazine formed an editorial partnership with Very to “take over” its fashion cupboard – a permanent bricks-and-mortar space. During the takeover, Elle and Very curated the most relevant items from the V range for its readers, with the activity supported by video, print and digital.

This behavioural shift towards digital in 2017 was illustrated by a number of key moments, with titles such as Glamour and trade title Campaign moving to bi-annual and monthly editions respectively, and InStyle going digital-only, while the latest ABC results underlined this trend quantitively, reporting a 29.2% increase in circulation for magazine media’s digital editions.

As many established print titles have embraced digitalisation, we have seen other areas renew focus on print. There was growth in the market of children’s titles, with a number of new launches including Goal!, PJ Masks and Pokemon magazine. The ongoing political maelstrom has proved lucrative for magazine brands concerned with current affairs, news and satire. Private Eye saw a sharp growth of 6.5%, whilst the Economist rose 5.4%.

Renault took an interesting step in bridging the gap between cutting edge technology and traditional media with their recent investment into Perdiel Group, the publishing house behind weekly business magazine Challenges. With this move Renault is betting on driverless cars growing in societal prominence. The logic being that driverless cars means freeing up your hands and your attention, which in turn means journeys could become the prime time to read a magazine.

What we can certainly say is that magazine media is evolving – as shown by the 30% increase in digital edition circulation this year – and in five years’ time we’ll be truly immersed in a new era for magazines. Although we’ll see magazines remain trusted publications that allow marketers to target niche audiences, magazine brands are only beginning to scratch the surface of the potential of fully integrated brand partnerships and other digitally blended strategies. As the industry undergoes a great transformation, magazines still have a crucial role to play in the modern media mix.

Sue Todd, CEO at Magnetic

About Magnetic

Magnetic is the marketing agency for consumer magazine media in the UK. It exists to help advertisers get the very best return from the rich engagement opportunities offered by multi-channel magazine brands. Its goal is to better understand and promote the changing role that their stakeholders’ brands and channels play in consumers’ lives, and how this shapes delivery of effective marketing solutions for advertisers. It invests in insight, events and creative collaborations to further these goals. Magnetic believe in the continuing power and vitality of magazine brands, and is happy to engage in any conversation or share any ideas that help the media, advertising and marketing community benefit from these unique environments and opportunities.