By Linda Thomas Brooks, President and CEO, MPA – The Association of Magazine Media.
I am often asked, “If advertising in magazines is still proven to be more effective than other media, provides a brand safe environment with trusted, credible, fact-checked content and reaches larger audiences than even television, why aren’t marketers reflecting that in their media mixes?”
My answer, “Beats me.”
Maybe somewhere there is a study on human nature that explains why people have a tendency to pick the latest fad over the tried and true. I, however, have always had a preference for choosing the option with the greatest likelihood of success.
With that in mind, MPA has collected outside, industry-accepted research that speaks to how and why magazine media works.
FACT: Consumers Invite Magazines into Their Homes
Consumers’ relationship with magazines generally begins with the customer reaching out and saying, “Here is my name. Here is my home address. Here is my credit card information.” That is different than every other media channel. When you think about all third-party data appends and cookie data, they don’t really know who you are. Instead, they can geo-locate you. They can ping you with a Starbucks message even if you aren’t a coffee drinker. They can intercept you and interrupt you.
As a customer reading a magazine, I understand the advertising. I like the advertising. The advertising is part of the experience. It is not an annoyance. The magazine is an invited guest, and the advertiser is welcome as a “plus one.” This is validated in Simmons Multi-Media Engagement Study, where attributes like “ads fit well with the content” and “has ads about things I care about” are highest for magazines.
FACT: Paper-Based Reading is More Effective
MPA looked at a compilation of outside research done by more than 100 neuroscientists, learning psychologists and cognitive psychologists to understand how people interact with print. What did we find? People process print content with greater focus of attention and with much more intense emotional reverberations than the screen format.
Scientists concluded through eye tracking, comprehension testing and FMRI machines that subjects had less distraction when reading on paper. Paper-based reading also has impact due to the additional sensory involvement—the feel of the pages, the smell of the paper and the sound of turning the sheet.
When subjects were tested while reading paper-based formats, they had higher comprehension and recall. They spend more time with printed pieces and at slower reading speeds, which stimulates emotions and desires. That emotional impact is very important to advertisers because a lot of advertising leans on emotional triggers.
The scientists also looked at preferred reading methods for what they call robust reading—really wanting to understand core material. All adult age groups, including millennials, favoured paper-based reading.
Why does all this matter to advertisers? If you are putting an ad out there, you want to know if your target audience saw it, paid attention to it, understood it and will remember it. All of those things are elevated with paper-based reading.
FACT: Print Boosts the Effectiveness of Cross-Platform Campaigns
Any strategic communications planner knows that when you add a media channel your numbers go up. According to Millward Brown, the single best channel to increase all upper and lower funnel metrics is magazines. The Millward Brown study compiled over 150 client studies in four categories—CPG, Auto, Entertainment and Financial Services—and looked at mixtures of media. They found that when print media is in the mix, critical KPIs go up the most.
Adding print is the best way to build awareness and consideration as well as move brand favourability and purchase intent. For example, the Millward Brown research shows that you get a 17% lift on purchase intent when you have print working in your media mix.
Understanding consumer journeys can be complicated, but the idea is always the same: You can’t harvest people at the bottom of the funnel, if you don’t put them at the top of the funnel first. The single best way to move both upper and lower-funnel metrics is to have print in a campaign.
FACT: Magazines Have the Highest Return on Ad Spend
When clients say “I already have high awareness and consideration, I just need to move some product,” I say, “Magazines are the best place to drive sales.”
Nielsen Catalina did a roll up of over 1,400 client studies that they had conducted over a year. They looked at their key metric, Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), which measures what you get back for every dollar you put in the marketplace. Magazines delivered a $3.94 return on every $1. The next highest, digital display, trails by more than $1.30 at $2.63.
For clients who already have high awareness and consideration, Neilson Catalina found that high frequency of use and high awareness brands have a much higher frequency of return on their spending in magazine media, a whopping $5.94. Those are the brands that have the highest return on their media spending and should be leveraging print.
FACT: Magazine Media Offers the Only Industry-Wide Sales Guarantee
About eight years ago, Meredith Corporation did research using Nielsen Catalina for CPG products to look at the results of a specific ad campaign. They boldly promised that if a qualifying campaign does not demonstrate positive ROI, advertisers can have their money back.
Meredith made their methodology available to any other MPA member publisher who could participate, and more than 80 campaigns have offered the guarantee. Some of those were print only and some of those have been multi-format campaigns.
Any guesses on how many times the guarantee worked? How many times clients got a positive ROI? Every. Single. Time. No other media offers an advertising guarantee. What does that tell you?
FACT: Magazine Media is Powerful Across Platforms
Not only is magazine media more engaging thanks to its paper format, even digital readers average 50 minutes with each issue. On social media—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—magazine companies are the number one brands and they elicit more engagement than non-magazine brands.
When you look at magazine media audience across all platforms—Print, Digital, Web, Mobile and Video—magazines have enormous reach: 1.8 billion to be exact.
People enjoy print; better yet, consumers are adding other magazine media platforms while still enjoying that tangible copy. If audiences are engaged across platforms, why aren’t marketers?
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