Magazine ABCs – good news for the free market, specialists and news mags


The magazine ABC results are out for the first half of 2015 – so who are the winners and losers? Mark Jones, from the Publishing Team at Amplifi @ Carat, takes a close look.

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This period’s ABC release has proved most successful for the free market and publishers with specialist content. In a continued trend, the free market remains buoyant posting a PoP increase of 0.5%; little wonder then that other publishing groups are also keen to access this successful space. This period has seen the launch of TV Mag, Dennis plans to launch a men’s title in the latter part of the year, and the iconic NME will be moving to this model in September after 63 years as a paid for title.

Outside of the free titles, the only sector to enjoy increases in its entirety was the News and Business Sector. In an election year and with such specialised editorial this is an expected triumph for quality writing and content.

In other sectors the overall trend was downwards with individual successes for certain specialised titles; for fashion, it was Elle and Instyle, for wellbeing it was Women’s Health and Forever Sports.

Other markets suffered more significantly with the Celebrity Weeklies and Home Interest sectors particularly feeling the pinch from their digital competition as the Mail Online churns out vast volumes of celebrity content apace, and Pinterest and Instagram offer a free inspirational alternative to magazines. 

Whilst the magazine ABC numbers represent one element of the brand, we shouldn’t lose sight of their absolute reach and why we use the channel in the first instance. It is right to say that ABC figures continue to reflect the health of magazines’ printed, and in some instances digital editions, yet the parent print brands now anchor a multitude of brand extensions.

ABC figures are invaluable for media buyers and sellers in setting prices, but when assessing brand health we should not dwell on these numbers alone.

Firstly, we must be mindful that the ABC numbers alone are not reflective of the brands’ true breadth of scale.  Despite the ABC’s ability to audit other brand extensions, rarely do we see every touchpoint reported upon in a holistic way. This will only become harder as we undergo a further diversification of touchpoints through the likes of Facebook Instants and Google News.

Most importantly we must remember the real reasons that make magazines an effective advertising platform. Mass scale has rarely been the key reason for their use; their true power continues to lie in the core benefits of engagement, influence and advocacy.

Given the proliferation of bitesize, fragmented media experiences in our busy lives, a truly solus medium which immerses readers is an increasingly rare quality that should be considered increasingly valuable.

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