Although the shut down of so high profile a title came as a surprise, a look at More’s recent circulation figures made the reasons easy to understand. The July to December ABCs revealed a 40% fall in weekly circulation to plunge the magazine below 100,000 for the first time, and this despite a an reader research-led revamp last Summer involving a move away from celebrity-focused editorial.
Magazine publishers are still struggling to find lucrative alternatives to print circulation and advertising revenues. Audiences are moving online and, with so many alternatives for advertisers in this environment, publishers are struggling to replace offline revenues with online ones. Bauer clearly decided the prospects for future ad revenues weren’t good, online or offline, so ‘More’ had to go.
Different publishers are approaching this core challenge in different ways.
For example, whilst Bauer is selectively trimming its magazine portfolio, they’re also selectively expanding in other areas. Their acquisition of Planet Rock in February, a loss making radio station previously owned by millionaire and rock music fan Malcolm Bluemel, reflects their view that radio in general is a growth media and that guitar music in particular is a fast growing genre. Further radio acquisitions may follow – Bauer is believed to have held talks to buy the loss making Absolute Radio.
Bauer may be shifting the balance of power of their media portfolio in reaction to the changing media habits of consumers but IPC have taken a different approach. Their response has been to align their commercial offering more closely with the needs of advertisers in the hope that more attractive formats will help to boost flagging advertising revenues across their existing portfolio.
The owner of Marie Claire, Look and InStyle has launched a new advertising position across all its titles – Inspired Conversations. The aim is to connect advertisers more closely with IPC’s editorial content – a shift towards ‘native marketing’ we predicted earlier this year – and to offer a more holistic solution to their advertisers challenges across their magazine portfolio.
Take IPC’s new ad product Amplify, launched earlier this month. Amplify involves the advertiser taking over a section of an IPC title’s site relevant to the campaign. This advertising unit features both the advertiser’s creative and IPC’s editorial content. Consumers who interact with the advertiser’s creative are driven to the advertiser’s chosen site, and those that interact with the editorial content are driven back to the section of the IPC brand’s website that is sponsored by the advertiser. So far, so good, but that’s not all. Using RadiumOne’s data-driven advertising platform, IPC can analyse who’s interacting with the advertiser’s content and how they’re interacting with it to identify a relevant audience with purchase intent. The advertiser-sponsored content is then served (or amplified) to other audiences who fit this profile across IPCs range of sites.
IPC has also launched Social Catalyst, a venture which will use PeerIndex’s network of over 150,000 key influencers to generate genuine word of mouth for advertisers across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora, in addition to other blogs and websites.
And more advertising innovations will follow – 2 new advertising initiatives are to be announced in the coming weeks and further research is being undertaken with advertising partners into how consumers engage with brands, content and advertising across all platforms.
Trimming your portfolio and trying to extract more value from your existing portfolio are 2 strategies you’d expect in a sector in decline, but surely launching new titles is counter-intuitive? Well, that’s exactly what challenger brand Shortlist Media are doing.
However, it’s new title – Never Underdressed – will be digital only. The fashion title, which is being pitched against market leaders such as Elle, Vogue and Marie Claire, will launch next month on desktops, tablets and smartphones only.
Of course the content will be key to its success but Shortlist are also banking on a range of ‘innovative and immersive new advertising formats that extend across desktop, tablet and mobile and allow brands to deliver…high impact campaigns across all platforms simultaneously.’ They’ve certainly appointed a team to deliver digital advertising innovation with the project being headed by Carrie Tyler, the former digital director of Elle, as editor, and Lucy Alexander, the ex-digital ad director of Elle, as publisher. It will be interesting to see if a ‘mobile first’ product can cut through the clutter in the women’s magazine world and deliver a solution to advertisers markedly better than those titles adapted to the mobile environment.
Which strategy will succeed? Perhaps all of them. Some titles are clearly past their sell-by date, publishers need to offer ad formats that are less interruptive in line with general trends in advertising, and the lower costs of distribution of digital only products will make easier to launch challenger titles. And publishers need to try new things – otherwise their influence over consumers and their share of advertising revenues will continue to fall.