A view from the top: Magazine leaders give their take on the ABCs
The latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations for the last six months of 2011once again highlight the challenges facing traditional publishers in the digital era. The business - in the UK at least - is not for the faint hearted, but it remains full of opportunities.
A view from the top: Magazine leaders look behind the ABCs
The general decline of print circulations in the UK has been well-documented, but magazines continue to represent big business, with ZenithOptimedia expecting the print side of the industry to continue to command more than £800m in advertising this year.
But transition is clearly in the air. The PPA's marketing director, James Papworth, has provided a timely reminder of the UK's love affair with magazines, "the second most magazine-friendly country among the G8 nations", nonetheless, but increasingly the business is about how quickly individual publishers can convert their old readers, and print advertisers, onto digital platforms.
The repositioning of magazines as multimedia brands has been reflected in the restructuring of sales forces up and down the country, most recently at Bauer Media.
The role media agencies can play as brand advocates during this transition period could be crucial, with many press specialists already recognising the increasing dwell times seen on many tablet editions. Whether this can be attributed to tech novelty or better engagement remains to be seen.
The ABC body, to its credit, is also trying to adapt to the evolving landscape, the pace of which has never been seen before. Its latest audit featured almost 100,000 digital edition sales for 72 brands.
This figure is only set to rise, boosted by the launch of Apple's Newsstand in October, and the tech company selling a further 15 million iPads, and 37 million iPhones, during its last quarter.
Of course, the auditor remains too sluggish and too inflexible for some, with particular concern emanating from Dennis Publishing and The Economist. The auditors will have to try and address such concerns as quickly and as best it can, as the relevancy of its biannual audits depend on it.
Sylvia Auton, chairman and CEO
"I’m delighted by IPC’s performance in this ABC period. Conditions have been challenging but a number of our brands have shown great resilience and posted strong results. I am pleased that we are once again the UK’s leading magazine publisher by both value and volume.
"Some of our most iconic titles including Marie Claire, Woman’s Weekly and Country Life posted circulation increases during this period and our stable of more specialist hobby- focused titles such as Rugby World and Amateur Gardening also performed well.
"I am also delighted by Golf Monthly, which was the star performer within our Inspire portfolio, taking market leadership of the Golf sector in its centenary year, as well as posting the biggest year-on-year growth since 2008.
"We also continue to launch new products into key sectors to capitalise on market opportunities. A very recent example of this is Style At Home, which continues to grow in popularity, and offers stylish, affordable ideas in an attractive editorial package.
Tom Bureau, CEO
"We are extremely pleased at having posted growth across our portfolio, at a time when any growth is clearly hard to come by. This is doubly the case when considering the distractions to senior management as we formed Immediate Media Co during this period, and all the work on integrating the three companies. To show growth really is a testament to the power of our brands and the high quality of our people.
Hearst Magazines UK
Arnaud de Puyfontaine, CEO
"Hearst Magazines UK offers premium and trusted editorial content to millions of UK readers through our printed magazines. Our success with digital editions, especially in regards to Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health, demonstrates a rapidly growing demand for our brands through emerging digital channels. Embracing this clear consumer appetite for digital editions on mobile and tablet enables us to reach new audiences and deliver on our commitment to offer our consumers access to our content on the platform of their choice, in the format of their choice at their convenience.
Nicholas Coleridge, managing director
Magazines: 13 consumer (7 contract)
"Print is proving to be remarkably resilient at the luxury end, confounding the doom-mongers. In addition, the iPad and other tablet devices are offering exciting routes to market which is proving popular with our upmarket readership, in particular for GQ, Wired and also Vanity Fair.
"Our combined print and digital ABC figures indicate that quality journalism remains in demand, and we’re in good shape for the many opportunities which lie ahead."
Northern & Shell
Stan Myerson, group joint managing director
"Northern & Shell is the UK’s leading publisher of celebrity magazines, with over 1.25 million copies sold each week. Our titles have all performed well in a difficult marketplace.
Paul Keenan, CEO
"It's a changing landscape in the publishing world, and I see the market dividing into those who are leading on price discounting and promotional offers, and those who are leading on product.
"We take a long term view with consistent focus and investment in our products and brands, and this has seen our reach and influence continue to grow.
"We deliver world-class magazines to millions of readers and these ABC results again recognise the efforts and skill of talented editorial teams. Heat, Closer and Grazia continue to significantly outperform the market thanks to their quality editorial. In the second half of 2011 we have been backing this up with significant investment in above-the-line media across our key brands.
"This week will see another above-the-line campaign breaking with Grazia’s outdoor campaign starting on 20 February.
"Moving forward, in these early days, tablet editions have all been about learning and experimentation. Over the next three to four years I can imagine the tablet market will become a really interesting distribution platform. As publishers, we need to leverage the capabilities of the devices and to selectively use rich media to produce a better experience."
Mike Soutar, CEO
"We anticipate continued market share growth across all of our platforms over the next year; more readers in print, and more users digitally across web and email. Our digital reach has multiplied by a factor of 10 in 2011, and we are seeing a high rate of growth so far this year too.
"Revenues will grow too. Visibility remains limited across the market - January in particular was a challenge - but we’ve already seen demand building for key months later in the year and forward bookings are ahead of this point year on year (we even have a campaign already booked for November 2012 which is a first for our business).
"Our business – now in its fifth year - is built on distinctive brands reaching valuable audiences through unique routes to market. Our success has been based on quality editorial content and delivering innovative solutions for advertisers. We see further market opportunities for our existing portfolio and beyond - in print, digital and international markets."
James Tye, CEO
"I’m delighted that a number of our titles have once again shown strong growth in a challenging print market. The Week especially stands out for growing its presence across multiple platforms.
H Bauer UK
David Goodchild, MD
"H Bauer has again delivered a strong set of ABC results, proving that in times of economic uncertainty the strength of a magazine’s editorial proposition is key to its success at the newsstand.
"TVChoice is enjoying its ninth consecutive period as Britain’s best-selling magazine, Take a Break, already the number one women’s weekly, has increased its share in the true life market and Bella has gained further ground on its competitors in the classic women’s weekly market. H Bauer’s strength remains in its unfaltering focus on delivering best in class in all of its markets."
The Economist UK
Andrew Rashbass, group CEO
Magazines: 6 (global)
"It took us 160 years to reach one million circulation, but only seven years to reach one and a half million. We now expect to reach two million within five years, fuelled by rapid growth in digital circulation. By then we expect to have more digital than print readers.
"At the moment the ABC figures only tell part of a print story. ABCs were designed to give an audited number for advertisers, but if you’re not carrying the same editorial or advertising in print and digital editions, then what two numbers are joining together?"
*E-editions as defined by publishers
Follow Arif Durrani on Twitter: @DurraniMix
This article was first published on mediaweek.co.uk
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