A Year in Magazine Media & Look Ahead to 2017
The story of magazines in 2016 is slightly less dramatic than the storytelling rules dictate.
Year-end reviews are really about the art of telling a good story. There needs to be a central narrative which drives meaning and helps the story reach a conclusion; often a set of winners and losers (or more extremely some good and bad characters), and frequently an overcoming adversity angle.
Across the industry there are many individual tales of innovation, disciplined and smart business decision making, brilliant content creation and rewarding commercial partnerships that deliver some of the strongest ROI for brands.
From new dynamic distribution strategies, to agile pricing and diversification into new channels, there are plenty of tales that underpin the overall fact that in 2016 demand for magazine media content is growing not shrinking.
In 2017 when our new audience measurement AMP arrives, we will be able to evidence this more fully.
And within this growth story, consumers and advertisers increasingly see print as offering a very different and unique experience and opportunity, with magazine media providing a more purposeful and pleasurable read and a more welcoming advertising environment than any other.
2016 was the year that book sales in print grew for the first time in four years whilst eBook sales fell, and just last week vinyl record sales overtook downloads for the first time since digital downloads came into existence.
Proof that some experiences can’t be replicated digitally and that consumers are beginning to recognise what non-digital experiences offer.
There were also many dramatic twists and turns to this year, giving much for the marketing and media community to reflect upon. For me the most significant story of 2016 for anyone working in advertising came from research conducted by Les Binet and Peter Field, which looked at 500 case studies from the IPA Effectiveness awards.
Their insight found the following that ‘on average, 47% of a comms budget is now spent on short-term activation strategies, up from 31% in 2014. And in terms of entries to the awards focused on short-term goals, that has “grown explosively” from around 7% in 2006 to more than a quarter in 2016, according to Field.
Of even more concern is the decline in effectiveness, defined as their ability to create brand fame and contribution to profit growth. According to the research that peaked in around 2009 but has since been falling. And even the long-term case studies have lost efficiency, with levels now below where they were a decade ago’.
Our own work this year with Millward Brown and Carat looked at where magazine media contributes, and what drives long-term brand equity, and we will continue to invest in more specific data and insight in 2017 that helps advertisers make the optimal choices for their campaigns.
So looking forward, what else for 2017?
Well I believe that it will be a defining year, when many of the consequences and opportunities from the turmoil of change that has been 2016 will be determined.
We will have some serious choices to make as a media and advertising industry about the future we are creating for brands, consumers and future generations of talent coming through our doors.
2017 will be the year when we better understand the consequences of our actions and look to really redress some of the imbalances that exist. The year when are more honest about our bias and make a more conscious collective effort to break them.
From diversity and digital citizenship, the fight to save quality journalism and content, to resisting the dominance of the digital duopoly and protecting children from adult content, 2017 will be the year when more businesses break from the pack and lead the way on doing things differently.
From a magazine media perspective we will step up the fight to remind advertisers to invest in channels which create meaningful connections with their customers and drive long-term brand equity and offer the opportunity to be highly relevant to audiences.
We will see more dynamic distribution strategies to get print content into the right hands, and there will almost certainly be more live audience engagement opportunities allowing brands to connect in new ways with consumers who’s core passion is a defining factor in determining what they do and how they spend their money.
It’s going to be awesome.