Magazine article Marketing

Media Analysis: Strength in Numbers

Magazine article Marketing

Media Analysis: Strength in Numbers

Article excerpt

Magazine publishers are suffering, but remain bullish about maintaining ad rates.

The latest set of ABC results has done little to calm the nerves of the publishing industry. Traditional men's magazines continue to slide, while the women's weekly market has suffered from consumers cutting back on multiple purchases. Those sectors tied to declining industries such as the property market have also suffered a hit.

Jackie Newcombe, managing director of IPC Southbank, believes that the outlook for the industry is difficult to predict. 'The consumer bubble has burst and in the past four months there has been an over-correction,' she says.

This view is shared by Anthony Gibson-Watt, buying director at Zed Media, who says trading in the first three months of the year has been shocking. 'Clients are nervous and it is only a few bold brands such as VW that have actively increased their share of voice,' he adds.

Confined to the margins

Despite the downturn, strong editorial brands have held their own. 'It is not one of the best periods for the industry,' admits Peter Phippen, managing director of BBC Magazines. 'But in times of recession, consumers tend to gravitate toward strong brands.'

As a consequence, magazines on the margins will find themselves frozen out if they refuse to play ball with the demands of media buyers. Rob Lynam, press account director at Mediaedge:cia, claims many titles are facing the axe from schedules. 'Marketers, like consumers, will vote with their feet and only those magazines which are must-haves will stay on the schedules,' he warns.

Stephen Quinn, publishing director of Vogue, insists that top-quality titles - such as his own, Elle and Marie Claire - are coping. 'The fact is that these titles are holding up well despite the downturn in the economy,' he says. However, he adds that the last quarter brought a decline in margins and sales at the flagship stores, which, in turn, led to an adjustment in marketing spend in the first quarter of this year.

This means that the volume of ad pages has fallen too. As a result, publishers have cut back on pagination preferring to run smaller edition sizes, while retaining the price premium.

When Quinn joined Vogue at the end of 1991 the title had lost 500 pages of advertising in a year as the recession of the early 90s took it toll 'Our line is to defend our rates stoutly - so our page rate will be intact when we come out of the downturn,' he says.

Discount dilemma

Inevitably publishers claim that once rates dip, media agencies will fight tooth and nail to prevent them coming up again. …

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