In the week that saw two different studies highlight the vibrancy of print media, David Goodchild, CEO H Bauer Publishing Limited, offers his own unique viewpoint on the power of print.
There is no question that the evolution of magazine media from a single channel medium to a sector which is synonymous with original, trusted, premium content distributed on multiple channels, is a hugely positive change.
The move is both growing the sectors influence and creating sustainable long term businesses for publishing which assure our healthy future and place at the centre of debates about content and changing consumer needs.
It’s become fashionable in this debate, to bash ‘the old’, which in our sectors case is the print format, while talking-up the benefits of digital screens.
It has long been my belief that reconciling the roles that all of the various channels play, and making clear to advertisers the distinct and valuable roles each contribute on a plan is where we must focus our efforts.
We need to offer the right advice and ensure that the most appropriate channel mix and relevant audience is recommended for each brief.
There’s much to be said for consuming content across a range of devices, and many audiences do, but it’s vital, for both readers and advertisers, that we don’t ignore the power of print magazines. This is especially true in reaching certain less fashionable audiences.
At H Bauer we are home to some of the UK’s most popular print brands with Take a Break, the UK's number one women's brand for the last 25 years and TV Choice, the UK’s biggest-selling paid for magazine together having sold over 2.4 billion copies.
Whilst we are undoubtedly transitioning to a future in which digital will play a more substantial role, publishers must continue to evolve their print brands to remain as relevant today as they have in the past.
Print at the core
Print remains at the core of everything we do as a business; we know from our readers that nothing can quite replicate the experience of opening the latest issue of their favourite magazine.
Digital has a new role to play in encouraging reader engagement but for many brands print continues to provide readers with the emotional downtime they need from their increasingly busy lives.
Two recent reports provide an interesting perspective on the vibrancy of print media. The first looks in detail at reader preference and the second at the relative revenues in the print market versus digital. Each report points towards a very healthy future for print magazine media.
Let’s first look at behaviour because the latest research indicates that there remains a strong connection between readers and print formats. The UK results of a recent international survey showed 84% of people believe that they “understand and can retain or use information much better” when they read on paper (Literacy & Learning Survey 2015”, Two Sides/Toluna).
Importantly, given the involved experience we create for readers and advertisers with our print products, 79% of people are most relaxed when reading print on paper. Mobiles or smart phones were seen as a relaxing media by just 23% of people.
This preference for print and paper as a relaxing media is universal across age groups – 77% of 18-24-year-olds strongly agree that they are “most relaxed when reading information on paper”
This is not to say that digital formats and devices don’t play an important and different role for readers and advertisers but the research provides a timely reminder that these new formats complement and enhance our print products.
The revenue predictions for the next five years support this argument. Far from gloomy for print magazines, these projections suggest that print revenues will dominate the magazine media industry for the foreseeable future.
UK digital revenues across the print industries (magazine, newspaper and book) will represent just 42% of the total by 2020, according to the new Digital Consumer Publishing Forecast from Ovum/PwC. And print will remain the format of choice for readers with 62% favouring print over digital formats in 2020.
Considered together, the two reports provide compelling evidence for the continued strength of print magazine media formats, both in terms of reader preference and revenue performance.
They indicate that the industry buzz around digital formats is understandable but disproportionate and not reflective of the reality.
Print formats continue to engage readers for significant amounts of time and this delivers considerable benefits for advertisers and, in turn, for magazine media brands that continue to deliver strong print content that is much loved by audiences.