Magazine Media’s Half-Full Glass
Magazines may have an opportunity to lure marketers back to print, but platform dominance on digital remains an issue.
One of the takeaways from last week’s AMMC conference was Linda Thomas Brooks’ declaration that 2017 is the “Year of Magazine Media.” Brooks, head of the MPA, opened the conference by declaring that in an era of fake news, clickbait, and internet inundation, trusted media brands are more valuable than ever.
And with growing concern about poor ROI for programmatic advertising and rampant digital ad fraud, magazine media — whose largest companies actually offer a sales money-back promise — has an opportunity to lure marketers back to print.
These things all bode well for the magazine brands, and print magazines in particular, Brooks believes. As consumers start to do “extreme vetting” of news sources (I heard that term yesterday in relation to media consumption), they’ll gravitate toward premium brands. And as they do, media companies can share that benefit with marketers, Brooks told a group of Folio: and min staffers earlier this week.
Marketers can use this moment as an opportunity to reinvest in brand-related marketing — traditional advertising — which is focused on building awareness and positive perception. Indeed, Brooks said, the direct-response nature of digital advertising has resulted in “overharvesting” of the lower end of the purchase funnel.
At the meeting, Brooks presented the MPA’s deck on the value of magazine media. It’s very impressive. It suggests that magazines — print magazines by themselves, not including their digital extensions — have more reach than the top-rated television programs. It suggests that print media is neurologically superior for recalling and comprehending messages. It claims that magazine media brands generate more social media content than any other media. And that the number-one brand on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is National Geographic.
That’s all pretty incredible.
But here’s the thing: The facts as they stand in the market in the early part of 2017 don’t support this happy narrative. Platforms — especially Google and Facebook — are dominant. Seriously. Those two companies alone had more than $100 billion in 2016 revenue. That’s billion as in “B.” That’s more than twice the size of the magazine industry and about five times larger than the newspaper industry.
On the other hand, major magazine-media companies are in a sustained period of layoffs and turbulence.
So how does one reconcile these vastly divergent narratives? Brooks’ take is that the giant platforms of today may not be as dominant at some point in the future.
“Have you ever seen a tech company just go up?” she asked.