Should magazine advertising still be getting a piece of the precious pie that is your
marketing budget?


Last Friday we reported on the recent release from ABC looking at the latest figures in Consumer Magazines for Jul-Dec 2013. Results were mixed. Whilst some magazines soared in 2013 (Waitrose Kitchen), others flopped (Nuts). Overall we concluded, “the trend is for a smaller decrease in readerships period-on-period…“. With this in mind, we are taking a critical look at the effectiveness of magazine advertising.


It is no secret that print has had a tough few years, with local newspapers disappearing and nationals making the move to online. The cost of print is still rising and many magazines are facing a similar fate. With circulations dropping it seems that we may have lost faith in the traditional paper and ink media to reach the audience it once did.


Before we sweep magazines aside in our eagerness for newer and more ‘innovative’ ways to spend our budgets, we should probably have a look at some research (any excuse to look at graphs and whatnot).


It is undeniable that there are other types of media which can provide a much higher reach than any magazine can claim, but when it comes to the effectiveness of the advertising and the level of engagement with that audience there is a lot of research which suggests that magazines still come out on top. A recent study, AdSense¹, was launched by IPC Media to test the effectiveness of magazine advertising and seek to understand its role in the overall media mix.


The study found that magazine advertising prompts action from its audience.

  • 14% purchased the brand advertised
  • 10% had recommended the brand
  • 18% had talked about the brand
  • 46% of women were more likely to purchase a product they’d seen advertised in a magazine.


This is supported by a study commissioned by the PPA in 2011². It found that respondents were almost as likely to take action from the ads (63%) as they were editorial (66%), and almost a tenth (9%) of all advertising pages in the study were reported to have generated a sale.


The ads in a magazine are seen as an integral part of the experience and are considered less intrusive and annoying than ads in many other media, with commercial television and radio ads rated worst³. In fact, a survey done in the US in 2005 found that 48% of magazine readers thought that advertising actually adds to the enjoyment of the medium?


James Papworth, marketing director at the PPA told Media Week that their study shows that “magazine readers see advertising as much a part of the offering as [editorial]. Both the ads and editorial are wrapped up together in the entirety of the reading occasion. There is no such thing as an ‘ad break’ in magazines.”


We don’t talk much about magazines because they’re not exciting. There are many more innovative and ‘sexy’ formats popping up every day, and who in the world of marketing doesn’t want to be seen as ground-breaking? But at a time when we’re coming up against time-shifting on television, increasingly irritating radio ads, and are still waiting for mobile to come up with a format which doesn’t infuriate users; a type of advertising which actually adds to the users’ enjoyment should not be ignored.


We’re always on the lookout for innovations in advertising formats but the bottom line is that we want people following our call to action, and if this comes from an old favourite like magazine advertising, then we’re happy to play it safe.


Do feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about this content.


¹’AdSense’ by IPC Media, 2012 ²’Magnify’ by the PPA, 2011³ NFO Worldgroup, 2002 in ’Absorbing Media’ by PPA? ‘BIGresearch Simultaneous Media Survey SIMM6’, 2005 by BIGresearch in ‘The Case for Magazine Advertising: The Research Evidence’, 2009 by PPAI?