If Magazine Ads Are So Effective, Why Are Revenues Down So Much?
Reports say print still shows value for marketers.
One of the most fascinating aspects of managing multiple media platforms—classified publications, traditional magazines, online services, events, e-newsletters, web publishing, etc.—is assessing the relative engagement consumers have with each platform and measuring the actual impact the advertising has in terms of driving business activity.
A few years ago, most conclusions were based on conjecture: we could measure the dickens out of the online usage, but had fewer tools to measure traditional media. Things have improved on that score—we use 800 numbers to track leads, and can set up web intercept pages to test the amount of traffic driven onto the web from a print ad, for instance.
One thing we see clearly is that a print advertisement drives more activity than an online listing or ad. And that, together, a multi-platform approach gives a marketer the most business activity for the most efficient cost per instance of business activity. We’ll sell it bundled or unbundled, but we know a print ad in the program helps to drive results.
Traditional Media, Engagement & the Internet
Two interesting studies were released recently, and both declare the primacy of old media in terms of engagement and impact.
McPheters & Company, a media consultancy, released a study that proclaimed “TV and magazine ads are far more effective in delivering ROI and consumer recall than Internet ads.” The basic conclusion, after studying 30-second TV ads, full-page four-color magazine ads and Internet ads in standard sizes was that:
One of the interesting facts was that 63 percent of banner ads were not seen. People actually registered 37 percent of the Internet ads and stopped on slightly less than a third.
The Magazine Publishers of America came at the issue of media consumption a little bit differently, creating a whole new metric for thinking about media: the “Time-Ad Impact Ratio.” What they tried to do was relate the amount of time that consumers spend with media to the amount of impact advertising in that media has on consumers. This ratio is a hybrid data point, put together from the conclusions of two unrelated studies. It’s clever and a little intellectual, and shows that advertising in magazines and newspapers has the highest ratio of ad impact to consumer time spent interacting with the medium.
Traditional Media Must be Doing Really Well, Right?
Traditional media continue to be a critically important way that consumers get information and entertainment, unquestionably. Each medium has its unique way of engaging with consumers, and the advertising designed for the medium takes advantage of the way consumers are paying attention.
The Internet is not one thing. It’s a whole amalgam of things that are happening at the same time.
Am I looking at advertising? Actually, I’m interacting with marketing in a bunch of different ways, each of the messages closely tailored to the kind of task I’m executing. iTunes is pushing digital content on me. (All of which, by the way, has been traditionally supported by advertising in magazines and on TV.) I’m looking at some product reviews on Amazon for an accessory product. (Frankly, the better the quality of information supplied by the vendor, the more trusting I am of their product.) I’m also looking for reviews of a couple of movies, in case we get to go out tonight.
Here’s my bottom line. We’re in the middle of the biggest economic disruption in generations. Marketers don’t have the money to fund their marketing programs. The high cost items go: high impact advertising in TV and magazines are at the head of the line.
Is it short-sighted? You can make that argument. But the business doesn’t think it has any choice.
The key is that these marketers are still going to get a flow of business activity from all their other digital channels. Not just Internet advertising, but their web sites, their digital distribution networks, their own social media activity. They’ll look at this activity and begin to work on making it larger and more efficient.
It does not do away with the need for high-impact, broad-reach advertising. It just decreases the value of that advertising on the margin to the marketer.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: You can read the complete version of this post on McCarthy’s blog here.]