The Custom Publishing Council (CPC)
and market research firm Roper Public Affairs announced last week the release of a survey launched this summer to measure perception and value of custom publications among U.S. consumers. The goal, according to the companies, was to benchmark consumer awareness and understanding of custom publications to lay the foundation for ROI measurement for marketers.
“The biggest questions our members receive from marketers are related to ROI,” said CPC executive director Lori Rosen in a statement.
The timing of the survey announcement, which heralded an “overwhelming majority” of “favorable impressions” came just as Hearst made their own internal announcement
that the company would be significantly scaling back its 7-year-old, in-house custom publishing division by absorbing it into the Hearst Group, its integrated sales and marketing division, and concentrating solely on existing magazine advertisers.
Among the findings of the survey, which polled 1,001 Americans from June to July, 2005, was an already high awareness of what custom publications are. A majority, 58 percent, revealed an awareness of either receiving or seeing custom publications.
More modest, however, were results indicating that only 20 percent of recipients “flip through” publications most of the time. Forty-three percent occasionally flip through custom publications. Despite the moderate level of involvement, readers still polled high in perceived value of custom pubs – 50 percent said they’re very or somewhat valuable.
In what must be a relief to marketers, 85 percent of survey participants indicated that they’d prefer to get information “in an interesting collection of articles, rather than an ad.”
The 70-member CPC, founded in 1998, has distributed the survey to its members who, according to Rosen, will be using the results in presentations to marketers. The survey results presumably put the CPC well on its way to proving out relevancy and performance of custom publications – perhaps farther along than they anticipated.
“We were pleasantly surprised at the results,” says Rosen. “Though I’m a champion for the industry, I’m also grounded in reality and know there are still people who are both unfamiliar and skeptical about this medium. Not only did a majority of people know what custom publishing was – they also found the publications very useful.”