The main theme for custom publishing company Pace Communications over the next 12 to 18 months is to take the in-flight magazine category to another level and get the advertising community buying. As the publisher of four major U.S. airline magazines for Delta, Southwest, United and U.S. Airways, Pace reaches 50 percent of all scheduled air travelers in the United States.
"As magazine categories get squeezed, we’re struggling a bit to be top of mind," says Waller. "The trick for us is to grow the category in a time when print is struggling to get resonance with the advertising community."
Pace will focus on investing largely in research and promotion efforts, and is in the market for a research partner to conduct studies that will identify not only with media buyers but also the advertisers themselves. "Travelers are very media aware and the aircraft cabin is one of the few places you can go where you’re not bombarded with e-mails and phone calls and media messages," says Waller. "If we don’t promote the category and do the research then we’ll just be another niche medium that no one is particularly interested in."
In addition to research, Pace is working to build integrated packages for advertisers that include rare opportunities available in the in-flight business, including in-flight TV and marketing collateral like ticket jacket wallets and boarding passes. And e-newsletters to frequent flyers, airline Web sites and in-flight magazine Web sites allow for touch points with the consumer when they are not on board.
Pace will focus on pushing travelers from the print publication to the magazine Web site, to e-newsletters, to the airline Web site and vice versa. The program, which is in its testing phase, is a huge initiative for Pace and involves content that will direct travelers to the airlines’ other media properties. "This is an ongoing process that we’ll accelerate in 2008," says Waller.
Waller expects the category to show a 5 to 10 percent increase in print revenues for the company. In 2006, the category posted a 27 percent increase over 2005. "Research and promotion is where we’ll be spending our money," he says. "We need to get in front of the advertiser."
In-flight is a place where people can interact with media without any distraction.
The in-flight category is relatively little-known in the media world.
In a time when print is declining, in-flight magazines have an arsenal of opportunities and packages for advertisers in addition to print, including in-flight TV, marketing collateral and airline Web sites.
Without proper research on the validity of the category, in-flight may not be on everyone’s radar.