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Brand-building effectiveness of magazines questioned

26 May 2009

As stand-alone magazines fight for their lives and monthly ad pages show across the board falls, the future survival of magazines will be dependant on integration through online advertising.

Recent research from the Association of National Advertisers (US) has discovered that the reputation of magazines as effective brand builders has taken a dive, with just 51 per cent of marketers rating magazines as highly effective for building brand equity, compared to 67 per cent in 2007.

Other traditional media were also hit in the survey, however the repercussions could be strongly felt by magazine publishers, as magazines traditionally are lauded as particularly strong at brand building. Three senior publishing executives gave their opinions to Advertising Age.

Sally Preston, group publisher at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said the fascination with everything new, along with digital media’s emphasis on metrics such as click is overshadowing magazines’ influence on readers.

“Any other piece of information that's out there refutes that 100%," she said. "When you look at the purchase funnel, TV creates awareness the fastest. But when you explain to the consumer your attributes and when you're explaining your brand, print is that more than TV.”

"Sometimes we don't help ourselves [as publishers]. We talk about the new stuff like new is always better. There's a place in the mix for all of that. I personally think that the savviest marketers are the ones that understand the best way to tell a story is to tell it across platforms."

Sabine Feldman, publisher of American Media Inc’s fitness magazine Shape said the results reflect diminishing power for any individual channel. Magazines that are cornerstones of brands that also use digital and social media, however, are better at building other brands than ever.

"Neither online advertising nor social media were measured in 2007. And in 2007 the lines were much more well-defined. So it looks at especially magazines one-dimensionally. Looking at it this way, I'm not surprised the percentage would fall.

“I've thought of myself as a brand builder, as a chief brand officer. Online and social media have to be a part of a magazine's DNA to be successful”.

Howard Mittman, publisher of Wired, said it was all about the advertising mix now as publishers don’t just play in one particular medium.

Wired normally evaluates our brand's effectiveness across a variety of the mediums we offer our clients. What advertisers should be focusing on is what mix they need to use in order to maximise the effectiveness of their total spend. Looking at the mediums individually and assuming that all brands have the same needs seems to undermine the potential usefulness of the data. There is probably a more effective and less one-size-fits-all way for this study to present its findings."



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