Printing is still big business in magazine media – Folio:

The last decade has seen massive changes in magazine media, in part due to digital publishing startups competing with each other by creating innovative (and inexpensive) products that aim to stay ahead of the forces. disruptive in progress. Worse yet, the rise and scale of the duopoly has left most publishers fighting for virtual table scraps.

Many content producers have responded aggressively with an (often misguided) ‘video pivot’, while others are leaning more into social media, where the rules continue to change. Yet despite the perception by some that print is dying and that digital is the only way to survive and thrive, some publishers still recognize the value of print.

After all, printing continues to generate the biggest revenue for most traditional publishers. Print advertising accounted for 62% of the $ 16.6 billion in magazine advertising revenue in fiscal 2016, according to PwCthe most recent research and 87 percent of circulation revenue came from print products.

“We see it as an impression and digital; do not print Where digital, ”says Jon Werther, president of the National Media Group at Meredith.

At Meredith, print revenue made up two-thirds of overall ad revenue, and delivery accounted for 30% of revenue in 2017, making it the company’s second-largest revenue stream.

“The old trope that printing is dead is just a lazy thought,” says Linda Thomas Brooks, president and CEO of MPA, the Association of Magazine Media.

While many ad dollars that were previously allocated to print will almost certainly not bounce back from pre-recession (and pre-mobile) totals, brands are still keen to invest in print campaigns and continue. to believe in the power of the media to get their Message through.

“There are so many innovations that you can still bring to the magazine part of the business,” says Chris Mitchell, Commercial Director of Condé Nast Culture Collection. “For a while we were so focused on innovation to match digital that we as an industry didn’t put enough of our intellectual power into how we could integrate business and magazine delivery. . “

The dataset

The ability to use big data to prove the value of print advertising has become even more important as publishers find themselves competing with data-rich digital rivals. Print publishers responded with their own numbers. Meredith, for example, uses the Meredith Sales Guarantee to measure and ensure the incremental impact on sales of print, digital and multiplatform advertising. Either way, advertisers have seen a positive ROI and increased sales, and the company plans to roll out the program to cover its recently acquired Time Inc assets, Werther said.

Bauer Media, more than three-quarters of its revenue from print, uses Starch research data from GFK MRI to show advertisers how it can help them meet their marketing goals.

“Because readers make an active buying decision the day they read the magazine, we offer disproportionate reader engagement that we can demonstrate very convincingly with third-party data,” says Steven Kotok, CEO of Bauer Media Group USA. “And because our readers are retail buyers who come across and buy our products in a retail environment, we are uniquely able to enable retail consumer purchases. “

Focus on the frequency

magazine pressSome headlines have shifted their frequency in recent years in an effort to align issues with events and demand from readers and advertisers rather than just a traditional timeline. While Vanity Fair did not reduce its number of issues each year, slight changes in the schedule made its print magazine more profitable, Mitchell says.

For example, instead of publishing both a December issue and a January issue of Vanity Fair, the publisher has now pushed back the January issue for a few weeks and called it a “holiday issue.” A “summer issue” combines the July and August issues and allows for an additional issue in February linked to the awards season.

“You’re talking about newsstand dates that can be 26 or 27 days apart in some cases instead of 31 or 35,” Mitchell says. “These are imperceptible changes in how long they stay on newsstands or when the subscriber receives their copy, but for advertisers, who have more specific needs, it makes a difference.”

This success inspired changes to W magazine this year, which will reduce its number of issues from 10 to eight per year. Rather than labeling them by month, each of the eight “volumes” will have a specific theme related to the seasonality of fashion.

Bauer Media is also changing the print frequency of its magazines, but has taken the opposite approach by opting this year to increase the print frequency by four titles. Since a large portion of the company’s revenue reflects newsstand sales, increasing the number of issues sold in a year increases profits.

Price increases

While many digital media companies struggle to convince readers to pay anything for online content, print magazine publishers are taking advantage of the opportunity to increase the price of their product without alienating their loyal base. “We raised the prices of most of our products in 2017, and our ability to do so was a direct result of everything we do for our audience,” Kotok said.

In recent years, Condé Nast has also been successful with price increases on some of its magazines, notably – notably –The New Yorker. The cost of a print magazine subscription has dropped from $ 59.99 in 2015 to $ 109.99 this year (after an introductory offer of $ 12). The increases apparently haven’t slowed down subscriptions, which have grown at double-digit rates every year for the past five years.

This success inspired movements similar to other titles from the publishing house. Part of the passage to eight volumes of W this year will also include a price increase of $ 2 per issue to $ 9.99 each.

Continued growth of SIPs

The market for single issue publications also appears willing to pay much higher prices for these magazines. Last year, Trusted Media Brands sold many of its “megazines” for $ 12.99, more than double the price of most of its other magazines.

“People really like the single topic,” says Alec Casey, chief marketing officer of Trusted Media Brands, which sees about 70% of its revenue coming from consumers. “It’s a smaller investment than what you would pay for a book, but bigger than a magazine. If you know you are going to like the subject, you are ready to spend a little more.

Bauer Media is also getting a boon in consumer interest for SIPs. The company produced seven in 2016 and 17 last year. In 2018, he expects to more than double that number, sending 41 SIPs to newsstands under various headlines.

Reduce friction for renewals

Our marketing efforts on our websites and through email and social media are a bigger part of how we sell print subscriptions today.

While digital disruption has created many headwinds for print magazines, one bright spot is that consumer marketing trends now allow consumers who want to renew a subscription to do so quickly and easily.

“Our marketing efforts on our websites and through email and social media are a bigger part of how we sell print subscriptions today,” says Casey. “We have improved the user experience a lot. We’re not asking you to fill out a ton of forms to get a subscription now. We have really streamlined the process.

The shift to more digital sales reflects the ability of businesses to easily and securely store customer credit card information for future use, or complete a transaction with just a few clicks on your phone. It also reflects a wider acceptance of subscription models in general.

“We now have a lot of subscription-based digital businesses that have educated the consumer on testing and short-term renewals,” Mitchell says. “That’s it, from Netflix to Apple Music. I bet that in the next few years, because of these outside companies, you will see an acceleration of this innovation.