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How magazine brands influence motors purchasing

In summary, car marketers are having to juggle some fundamental challenges and opportunities in the automotive customer journey:

  1. Balancing the long and short term. This means keeping an eye on monthly interactions, whilst also being confident that their brand remains strong enough to charge a premium and ensure increased profitability.
  2. Responding to changes in the way customers arrive at a decision and ultimately purchase a new car.
  3. Exploiting the customer data opportunity
Slide 1

This new report from Magnetic is designed to tackle some of these challenges and also to explain the role of magazine brands in today’s automotive customer journey.

Like motors businesses, publisher’s businesses are changing rapidly too, so it’s important to refresh the insight to take account of these changes.

With this goal in mind, we have pulled together evidence from a number of sources. Using different methodologies spanning consumer surveys, web analytics, neuroscience and eye tracking, this has enabled us to get a comprehensive view of the motors industry’s target audience to understand how they were engaging with car brands and car magazines.

Slide 3

Short-termism’ is an ongoing issue in the marketing industry; it can be defined as a focus on immediate targets to the neglect of long term objectives. Many believe this is damaging long term brand value and effectiveness. 

A report by well-respected business analyst Enders, covered this topic and attracted a great deal of interest. It was their most read report of 2017 including amongst their C-Suite audience. This report covered the causes and consequences of short-termism, and also more crucially scoped out a series of recommendations for advertisers, agencies and media owners in terms of the steps that needed to be taken to resolve what they believe is a potential impending crisis.

Slide 4

The Enders report for Magnetic highlighted three significant forces that were driving short-termism. The first two are widely recognised. Firstly, technology is a big driver that has created an accelerated pace and focus on the immediate results and, secondly, there is an absence of marketing practitioners at board level, with only 2.6% of S&P directors having marketing experience. This has an impact because marketeers tend to be the brand guardians, they understand the value of long term brand building activity.

Most significantly however, they drew attention to an outside force that is perhaps less well appreciated but places significant pressure at board level. Enders cites the changing ownership of UK-quoted shares as responsible for the shift to short-termism.

Slide 5

Stock markets have seen a massive shift from UK insurance companies and pension funds holding 43 per cent of shares to only 6 per cent now. This is significant because the decline in these types of investments indicates that there are fewer shareholders focused on the long term. This, in turn, impacts the behaviour of decision makers within listed companies

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Enders went on to identify that as a result of these forces we are caught in a vicious circle. As technology and digital facilitate an increase in short-term metrics, we become more reliant on them and investment in long-term reputational measures diminishes. 

Slide 7

Automation creates efficiencies and apparent cost savings so media becomes more commoditised; and we start to ignore the value of quality context because we are less able to quantify it. Furthermore, there is also the issue of misattribution. Digital platforms are able to demonstrate click-through rates really quickly, this feeds a desire to provide evidence to non-marketers who need short-term data; it generates an “ROI” measure, however it often attributes marketing effectiveness to digital campaigns without taking into account other marketing and marketplace activity.

Enders argues that context does matter because, although automated trading practices have brought with them cost savings, the compromise is brand safety. Directly bought advertising space comes at a premium, but you have a better guarantee of brand safety. It’s a classic case of you get what you pay for.

Slide 8

Enders make a number of significant recommendations off the back of their analysis. They believe there needs to be an Increased focus on balancing the long and short term, aided by analysis that includes an integration of short and long-term metrics. They also called for more studies into the benefits and risks associated with different context and environments so that advertisers can better navigate their choices. The analysis that follows rises to each of these challenges.

Slide 9

Enders make a number of significant recommendations off the back of their analysis. They believe there needs to be an Increased focus on balancing the long and short term, aided by analysis that includes an integration of short and long-term metrics. They also called for more studies into the benefits and risks associated with different context and environments so that advertisers can better navigate their choices. The analysis that follows rises to each of these challenges.

slide 11

The findings that follow are based on car buyers at various stages of the purchase process, and include readers of automotive magazines in print and online as well as TV audiences.

For our Accelerate report we started our analysis by posing the following question…

If long and short-term goals need to be balanced, what is the role of magazine brands against these objectives and how do motoring magazine work to support the motoring customer journey?

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Across the entire purchase journey there are three important points to consider. Firstly, buyers are always in market. We found that even two years out from purchase people were talking to family and friends about their new car, looking at cars on the road and visiting magazines and websites to start gathering information to formulate their shortlist.

Secondly, there are two car buying mindsets and most people switch between the two mindsets during the purchase process:

‘The Lover’ mindset is characterised by the emotional side of buying a car. It’s when people are willing to take risks, up their budget and make compromises to get their dream car.

‘The Pragmatist’ on the other hand, takes care of the practical side. Here decision making is typified by low risk attitudes and behaviour, considerations are focused on detailed rational information and core everyday needs.

It’s important that advertising and messaging covers off both mindsets across different activity – when someone is in ‘lover’ mode, the ads need to seduce them into buying the car through emotional appeal, and when someone is in ‘pragmatist’ mode they need convincing of the superiority of the car based on facts.

And the key stage to do this is the consideration stage. This is the first stage of purchasing – when they are mulling different models over and drawing up their shortlist. This stage can last for 18 months and happens months before the actual purchase. But this when it is crucial for brands to be connecting with buyers. At the end of this stage there are usually only four or five models in consideration and if you’re not one of them the chances of being the one they eventually buy are minimal. 

slide 13

Historically, magazines have been used by motors advertisers as vehicles for brand building and our research confirms that magazines have a very important role to play in building perceptions for advertisers.

On average 45 per cent of respondents changed their perception of a motoring brand after reading a motoring magazine. For every single brand attribute we gave people – be it safety, fuel efficiency, affordability, or environment credentials, reading a motoring magazine changed perceptions.

Particularly interesting is the ability of motors magazines to persuade consumers that the brand is affordable. This has the biggest impact with 53 per cent of consumer believing that automotive titles help to make car brands feel more affordable. This goes to show that motoring magazines work well as a vehicle to help justify price, and enable car brands to maintain a price premium.

slide 14

Less well acknowledged is the role that magazine brands can play in short-term activation. Work conducted by effectiveness expert Peter Field, renowned for his work with the IPA, shows that using magazine media (in print or online) delivers a 30 per cent uplift in activation metrics. This is generic data across categories and here activation refers to a number of metrics, web visits, trial, search and click throughs.

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This is further backed up by some work done by Sophus, a digital analytics company looking at source of traffic to motoring manufacturers' websites. This work shows that traffic driven by motoring magazine publishers is significantly more effective than other traffic with a 74 per cent increase in car configuration and a 120 per cent increase getting visitors to book a test drive.

slide 16

Magazine brands play a crucial role in actively changing people’s minds about the cars they consider and ultimately buy. We know the consideration phase is critical – a long process often many months before the final purchase. Motoring magazines help with the shortlisting process and actually shorten the purchase journey. 

The Accelerate research shows that 43 per cent of people reduced the number of brands on their shortlist, 20 per cent added a brand to their list, and a fifth brought forward their purchase by two months because of the information in motoring magazines.

slide 17

The significant role magazines play for those looking to buy a car is shown by their ability to secure ‘favourite status’. A third of people changed the car they viewed as their favourite after reading a motoring magazine. Connecting with consumers at this consideration stage of the purchase is the key time to either safeguard your position or actively push another model off the top spot!

slide 17

Most critically however, especially given pressure from boards to prove value for money effectiveness on media investment, what is the impact that magazines have on car buyer budgets?

We found that after exposure to magazines 39 per cent agreed that they had increased their car budgets by nine per cent. This increase covered different price points, so the opportunity extends across a range of brands and models. For luxury brands this is particularly valuable as it helps support the maintenance of a price premium. It’s also useful for brands that are keen to acquire new customers by persuading them to upgrade from a less premium brand or model to a more expensive one.

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So what is it about magazine experience that is delivering this financial impact?

We observed that some car advertisers have reduced their magazine printed display spend believing that editorial coverage was enough. With this in mind we looked at the impact of editorial and display, separately and combined.

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When respondents were exposed to a magazine containing advertising 31 per cent of them moved one of the brands featured, into the ‘favourite’ spot, compared to just 20 per cent of people who read a magazine without advertising. Brands were also more likely to be dropped from the ‘favourite’ spot with supporting ads around the editorial.

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The Accelerate research also showed that magazines with editorial mentioning a car brand combined with advertising from a car brand had an even greater impact of purchasing times, moving purchase forward by five months as compared to two months in magazines without ads. 

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The financial impact we saw on car budgets is achieved when people are exposed to display ads. This is especially the case when advertising runs in the same issue as editorial coverage. 

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We used eye tracking analysis to see the impact of display advertising on share of attention.

In the example below, car brand A received 19 per cent of share attention with magazine readers who were exposed to a magazine without any adverts. 

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However, share of attention increased to 42 per cent for car brand A when advertising was included in the magazine - more that doubling the share of attention the brand received.

Share of attention is an important metric because it’s linked to keeping your brand on the shortlist. Magazines with advertising in, reduced this chance by 25 per cent and advertising with a high share of attention halved the risk again. In fact, the advert with the highest share of attention in our test (70 per cent share of attention) was chosen as their favourite or put on the shortlist by a third of respondents.

We also looked at the impact of using publisher websites alongside printed magazines, and found that the combination of the two amplified the effect on consumers. There was increased likelihood of them changing their favourite car brand and increasing their budget by a greater amount as we can see here. 

slide 25

Used in tandem, print and online work brilliantly at tapping into the two mindsets detailed earlier. Print is consumed with an open and relaxed manner, and with its strong imagery taps brilliantly into the ‘lover’ mindset, whereas online delivers the need for data and comparison when in ‘pragmatist’ mindset. 

slide 26

It was also critical to look at the combined power of different media channels in this study. TV plus magazine media as a combination was found to be particularly effective - doubling memorability, excitement, boosing budget and helping to close the sale. Over half of those who read a magazine and watched the TV adverts, stated they were 95 per cent certain they would buy their favourite car. This is 16 per cent more people than those who watched TV ads or read a print magazine alone. Using magazines and TV together delivers a much greater impact.

slide 27

With an ever-expanding footprint, magazines are able to offer brand building and activation, and address briefs across the entire customer journey. The Accelerate work confirms their emotional brand building role early in this journey.

Furthermore, it demonstrates that magazine brands are well placed to tackle short-term pressures on driving revenue. This support comes from their ability to shorten purchase cycles and increase the amount consumers are willing to spend. The best way to amplify all of these effects is by using magazine brands across display, editorial and digital. In particular printed display advertising acts as a primer to editorial content, it also allows brands to ensure their brand gets more attention.

So, what is driving these positive effects on the car customer journey? For this report we started with a hypothesis that the powerful combination of quality environment and access to distinct audiences was super charging these effects.

slide 29

In particular we found evidence that magazine brands offer three key benefits; access to a valuable audience, a quality environment and a trusted content. These benefits are true in both print and online magazine environments. 

Motors magazine readers are a valuable audience for motor advertisers. They make up just under a third of all new car buyers but as they replace their cars more often, over a ten-year period they account for 60 per cent of all new car purchases. 

slide 30

Cars are their passion.  78 per cent agree ‘I am passionate about cars’ vs 20 per cent amongst non magazine readers. In addition, 68 per cent have had a conversation about cars in the last week versus 34 per cent amongst non-readers. 

This passion for cars makes them the go-to person for family and friends needing advice about cars. 61 per cent say a friend or family has bought a car on their recommendation, compared to 16 per cent of the non-motor magazine sample. This means that not only are they a valuable audience in themselves, they are also key influencers and act as a conduit to provide motor advertisers access to a wider audience 

You can see the value of these audiences if you look at web analytics data. The chart here shows that traffic to motors sites that has come from magazine sites is more engaged in the content there than traffic driven by other sources. 

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We also know that dwell time on motoring manufacturer websites is higher amongst users that have come from magazine websites rather than from other sources.

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Furthermore, if you place your advertising on a motor magazine website you can expect it to achieve higher levels of attention than advertising that you place in other online environments.

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Evidence from Lumen, who are experts on attention in online environments, shows that advertising on a motors magazine site can result in an eight per cent uplift in likelihood to see the advert. Lumen consistently find that quality content environments such as publisher environments have a positive impact on attention. 

And people trust the content of magazines. You can see in the chart that consumers interested in motoring are more likely to trust the content provided by magazines than any other content provider.

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Publishers have access to car enthusiasts and continually collect data from their subscribers and web visitors that helps them to better understand this valuable audience. 

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Magazine brands work across the automotive purchase funnel delivering long-term brand building and short-term activation. They offer expert automotive data and insight which helps them to build more commercially impactful campaigns. They deliver distinctive audiences and trusted environments, providing automotive advertisers with high quality inventory. 

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Most importantly magazine brands shorten purchase cycles and get car customers spending more and display advertising amplifies this effect.

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