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Have I got your attention? What’s next for the magazine landscape

  • Date:

    23 April 2021

Have I got your attention? What’s next for the magazine landscape

By Sue Todd, CEO, Magnetic

This article first appeared in What’s New in Publishing

As the anniversary of working from home for many of us passes, it is of course a time for reflection on the last 12 months and optimistic anticipation as the lifting of lockdown approaches. For me, there is a great sense of pride and wonder about how the industry I represent has performed.

Media has shown itself, once again, to be integral to people’s lives. When the chips are down and life becomes much smaller and more uncertain, we gravitate even more than usual to people and products that we know, trust and love.

During 2020, people consumed vast amounts of news, not least titles such as The Week and The Week Junior; streaming platforms also saw a huge uptake as cinemas weren’t able to remain open. But people also wanted to fuel their passions and feel connected to others through brilliantly curated content from magazine brands.

The subscriptions boost was a healthy 13% across the whole magazine market in 2020, with some titles and sectors achieving upwards of 100% increases in demand. 

Sue Todd, CEO, Magnetic

This surge and appetite for increased touchpoints with magazine content coincides with the biggest change to digital advertising to take place since the birth of online marketing – the imminent demise of the third party cookie later this year. The intersection of content, commerce and consumer data has truly gathered pace – I believe this will be a great opportunity for brands and publishers to work more closely together.

In 2020, magazine brands moved fast to stay relevant: without taking a breath, magazines were being produced from kitchen tables with photoshoots taking place in car parks. It is this care and commitment to quality and relevance that in part explains why magazine content has always been able to deliver deeply engaged and attentive audiences who welcome and pay attention to the advertising. We’ve long known that print magazines provide a trusted, relevant environment for passionate audiences, and that the advertising is welcomed – but now we have research that confirms that the same is true for digital magazines. 

Magnetic worked with eye-tracking research specialists Lumen to uncover data about adverts that appear on magazine websites and found that they outperform digital attention norms. The study showed that magazine websites garnered more attentive seconds per 1000 impressions when compared with quality digital display. When viewed on mobile, magazine sites achieve 1634 attentive seconds per 1000 impressions, compared with just 806 seconds for other types of quality digital display on mobile. When viewed on desktop, magazine websites achieve 1620 seconds vs 1008 seconds for other types of quality digital display. This means that, on mobile, magazines generate twice as much attention as other types of content sites.

The average eyes on dwell time in seconds also rises for online magazine environments – 2 seconds, on desktop compared with just 1.4 for quality digital display. This drops to 1.3 for Instagram in-feed ads on mobile.  

Ads on magazine sites get more attention because they stand out, they have more space and less clutter. At a time when there is uncertainty about the implications of the demise of the cookie, this is great news for advertisers. It provides confidence that investment in context could be one solution to achieving effectiveness in the digital space.

So what next for publishers?

With the increase in direct to consumer relationships and the inexorable rise of ecommerce, we can certainly expect brands and publishers to work more closely together on data collaborations and partnerships beyond advertising such as licensing and affiliate marketing.

Collaborations between publishers across news and magazines have been picking up pace in the past few years with the development of the likes of PAMCo and Ozone. I think we’ll see a new level of cooperation in 2021 and beyond. Publishers have more in common than divides us and our valuable assets of critical content, deep data and consumer trust when leveraged together help us offer brands incredibly powerful ways to reach and persuade consumers. 

Consumers will undoubtedly have changed too and have new expectations from brands. Contextual media should be on the mind of every planner and brand looking to make meaningful, relevant and valuable connections with like-minded communities. 

Magazines have some of the most dedicated and enthused consumers – I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2021. 

Sue Todd
CEO, Magnetic

Magnetic is the UK marketing agency for consumer magazine media. We exist to help advertisers get the very best return from the rich engagement opportunities offered by multi-channel magazine brands. Our goal is to better understand and promote the changing role that our stakeholder’s brands and channels play in consumers’ lives, and how this shapes delivery of effective marketing solutions for advertisers. We invest in insight, events and creative collaborations to further these goals.