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The year of living (more) digitally

  • Date:

    29 October 2020

The year of living (more) digitally

As audience demand for relevant and relatable media channels continues to grow, Anna Sampson, Insight and Strategy Director Magnetic, takes a look at what’s been happening to magazine content online and some of the smart ways advertisers have capitalised and grown their brands.

Maintaining cultural relevance, being relatable, authentic, and taking the time to truly understand an audience’s beliefs and values, has never been more important for brands and media channels.

Retail campaigner Mary Portas states that “How we buy has always been a cultural mirror to how we live” and right now we are all living significantly changed lives compared to 12 months ago.

Portas goes on to say that even the word consumer feels slightly dated. “Calling me a consumer limits me to what I buy, instead of considering what I am. Instead of us mindlessly buying from and being sold to, we are moving into an era of buying into”.

This idea of ‘buying into’ is reflected in the rise of purpose driven marketing.

Yet ‘purpose’ isn’t right for every sector and brand. ‘Buying into’ can also be about alignment with how we live and what we’re passionate about, it can be entertaining or artistic. Simply put, it can be about finding exactly the right audience and showing them something that truly resonates.

The magazine sector has long understood that providing positive and passion-based content about subjects that really matter to consumers provides a unique space for advertising. One where attention is high, and engagement is strong. Our report with Enders Passion Pays showed how spend in these areas was in growth, and that this presented opportunities for advertisers to benefit from the emotional relevance of media context offered by magazine brands.

Lockdown and the unprecedented events of 2020 has, as with many trends, simply accelerated audiences demands for the core magazine heartlands of fashion and food, and homes and gardens.

In the latest PAMCo release Gardeners’ World was up 95.2% over the year, while Golf Monthly was up 17.8%.TV & Satellite Week, TV Times and What’s On TV also saw their total monthly reach rise year-on-year, with TV & Satellite Week up by 15% across print and online.

Magazine environments have seen increased engagement over Covid. The latest Touchpoints data shows magazine readership increased from 22% to 27% amongst 15-24s pre lockdown vs lockdown, with their time spent reading increasing from 44 minutes a day to 56 minutes a day, with much of this coming from reading magazine content online as this audience are avid readers of this format.

Virtual online events have also benefited, record numbers flocked to Women’s Health Live with their online platforms achieving 14 million views during the start of the pandemic. 

The value of high engagement and attention to digital magazine environments, compared to online environments in general, is worth considering in the context of Christmas success. Within the very sectors that are flourishing, such as food and the home, related magazine titles have thrived over lockdown as people flock to find content that aligns with their new or rediscovered passions.

Digital magazine media environments are well placed to deal with the flexibility required from a media planning perspective right now, yet magazine brands are often under-estimated for their ability to deliver short-term impact. And don’t just take my word for it, Peter Field noted that including magazine media in the mix (both in print and online) delivers a 30% uplift on activation effects (Bridging the Long- and Short-term Divide).

We also know from another study ‘Metrics that Matter’ that magazines online deliver a 41% improvement on brand KPIs compared to other online environments. Work from Lumen consistently demonstrates that these digital publishers get higher attention to advertising than online in general.

Maintaining relevance isn’t just about audience and channel, tone is vitally important as some brands have shown to their detriment over Covid. For advertisers looking to deliver authentic, relatable and engaging content in the run up to Christmas and beyond, the added value of a magazine partnership, where trusted editorial expertise and aligned, emotive content can make all the difference to delivering a brand message that will both truly resonate and drive purchase intent.

We’ve seen this in work entered into our Spotlight Awards, which celebrate best in practice partnership activity.

Voxi saw an increase in purchase consideration from 47% to 61% after their partnership with heat where a Love Island spin-off show aired on YouTube and generated enviable engagement with 16-24s without the price tag of a TV sponsorship. heat created a new show ‘Getting under the duvet’ in collaboration with Voxi, which became the central hub for all the fan content and social media chatter usually dispersed all over the web.

Not On The High Street wanted consumers to better understand the breadth of their offering and drive sales over Christmas. ‘Gift Like An Editor’ saw the editors of Country Living, ELLE, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar and Red curate the most relevant Not On The High Street gifts for their distinct audiences. This partnership generated over £350k in revenue.

C4 partnered with Dennis to promote the show ‘The End of the F**king World’, previously aired on Netflix. The activity reached 1.8m viewers (more than 90%) of their audience with fan theory generated by a brand experience at Comic-Con. The digital campaign drove the highest awareness of a C4 show amongst 16-34s for three years, with attribution to C4 up 11%

With the enormous changes to consumer behaviour we have witnessed in 2020, it’s going to take both cultural relevance and commercial agility to thrive in such a challenging market. For brands that want to truly maximise their commercial success over the festive season and beyond, they would do well to put the positive and authentic digital environments that magazines offer on their Christmas list.

For more on this topic join Magnetic, Mary Portas and insight specialists Kantar for a webinar on November 4: ‘Maintaining Cultural Relevance in a Sea of Shifting Sands’.

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