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Business Periodicals Retain Digital & Print Influence

A recent blog post from B2B marketing agency Weidert argues that trade publications remain vital to B2B marketing, which should be encouraging news for AccuList USA’s many business periodical marketing clients. Whether online or in print, trade magazines retain reputation and authority with their vertical audiences, and many people trust information from these niche publications more than any other source, says Weidert blog author Tammy Borden.

Digital Offsets Print Declines for Trade Pubs

Borden notes that while circulation and ad spending for printed magazines may have dipped, digital editions are thriving. That contention is borne out by the latest PwC ad spending forecast, which sees an upward five-year path for trade magazine ad revenues from 2018 to 2022, albeit slight at 0.6%. The overall positive trend is because digital ad growth (9.3%) will offset print losses (-8.4%). In fact, PwC predicts that the digital ad spend will overtake print spending this year.

Digital Audiences on a Growth Path

Borden cites the multiple attractions of digital trade publications for business marketers, such as a growing readership: According to the 2018 Mequoda Magazine Consumer Study, 42.4% of U.S. adults read at least one digital magazine per month — a 15% increase in three years. Plus, there are also now digital magazine marketplaces like Magzter and Zinio that allow readers to access thousands of B2B trade titles in one place, further expanding audience reach.  For content marketers, digital content in business magazines is especially appealing because it can not only link to websites but can be SEO-optimized to leverage online impact.

Printed Business Magazines Retain Clout

Despite the growth of online readership and content, Borden still touts the marketing value of printed trade periodicals. She points to a survey finding that more than 32% subscribe to one or two print magazines compared with only 18% for digital publications. Plus, the print version of a publication (like direct mail) offers a richer sensory experience (visual and tactile) and a shelf life unmatched by digital. With the option to place advertising or content in both print and digital versions of a respected business periodical, marketers can maximize audience preferences and reach.

Check out the overall PwC media advertising outlook.

2018 Offers New Growth Opportunities for Publishing Marketers

There’s no doubt that AccuList USA’s business and consumer publishing clients face some pivotal audience- and revenue-building challenges in both print and digital marketing, but there are also growth opportunities in 2018. We note three potential positives recently highlighted by Publishing Executive magazine.

Quality Content Over Free Content

Audiences are increasing their demand for quality content, and advertisers are seeking publishers who can deliver that quality. There is a lot of untapped revenue potential for publishers who commit to quality, especially since the free-information era is ending as readers become wary of free but low-value content and increasingly willing to pay for reliable quality. For digital publishers, the downside of a shift to paid quality content can be a shrinkage of circulation, forcing them to balance potential gains in subscription revenue against lower page-views for ads. The Publishing Executive article offers various mitigating tactics: leaky paywalls; metered paywalls; charging only for premium content; allowing only paid subscribers to comment or participate in an online community; early access to certain articles for paid subscribers; access to paywalled content for subscription to a free newsletter, etc.

It’s All About Niches

With consumer access to vast amounts of information spewing into print, online, media and social every day, mass-market-oriented print and digital publications have been struggling, and niche publishers proliferating. Readers want to focus on what’s relevant to their specific interests, and many advertisers want to reach the right pool of people more than just the largest pool of people. The trick for publications is to embrace niche demand without sacrificing too much circulation. The Publishing Executive article offers some suggestions. Digital publications can create a product-within-a-product on the website, for example, with content targeted to a subset of the normal audience and attractive to new sponsors who want to reach that specific audience. For print publications, there are niche-targeted inserts, bonus sections, customized covers, polybagged special reports, or ad packages that combine a full-page ad in the magazine with a more in-depth cover wrap or insert for a special event or audience.

Demand for Brand Safety Grows

Brand advertisers have become concerned about aligning with publishers who tolerate fake news, violence, extremism, or other offensive content. The Association of Magazine Media recognized the danger and the opportunity in 2017 and released an ad campaign (“Better. Believe it.”) to highlight magazines’ quality content and brand safety. This means that respected publishers can court advertising revenue (and circulation) in 2018 by stressing brand quality and safety in their promotions. On that point, Publishing Executive quotes from an Advertising Age piece in which Shelagh Daly Miller of AARP declared: “Only when brands partner with reputable publishers can they have full confidence in where their ads are being placed. That’s a message that should be all over our industry’s media kits. And tattooed onto the foreheads of our ad reps.”

For more on publishing growth opportunities in 2018, read http://www.pubexec.com/post/6-growth-opportunities-publishers-2018/

2017 Magazine Trends: Digital Embrace, Platform Tensions

The pursuit of circulation and ad revenue will push magazine publishers to embrace a number of digital publishing trends in 2017, per predictions in a Publishing Executive magazine article by Ron Matejko, president of digital publisher MVP Media. We thought our consumer and business publication clients would be interested in a few of those trends.

Subscription Drives Go Digital

While insert cards and direct mail remain sturdy tools for circulation marketing, Matejko foresees increased use of digital tools in audience development, and he cites the example of Dallas-based D Magazine, which is leveraging its combined database with outreach via automated and personalized e-mail campaigns and targeted social media advertising to audiences that look like their current print subscriber base. The result has been more new and renewed subscriptions for the print product, in fact almost a 100% increase in subscriptions generated monthly through digital efforts. The power of postal combined with social/e-mail database marketing has certainly given legs to AccuList USA’s Digital2Direct marketing program.

Mobile Apps Boost Brand & Revenue

Also watch for increased use of mobile magazine apps that enhance the reader experience, predicts Matejko. Consider the success story of Cities West Publishing in Arizona, which expanded its app offerings last year with interactive versions of two monthly print publications, as well as apps to supplement multimedia campaigns for two special issues. For example, an app for Apple and Android mobile devices reformatted the more than 1,200 listings of design experts, shops, and services showcased in Phoenix Home & Garden magazine’s Top Design Sources issue, followed by a similar app for Phoenix magazine’s Travel Guide issue. The benefits: branding, extended shelf life beyond the newsstand, and revenue via multi-platform value-added for print ad partners.

Tech Innovations Could Be Transformative

Tech innovators are courting publishers with tools that could make a big difference to digital success, according to Matejko. He cites innovations such as Advontemedia’s software that caters to mobile readers’ preference for scrolling vertically instead of horizontally, or Woodwing’s Inception digital content production tool that enables publishers to create a constantly updated app, with responsive design for all devices.

Publishers in a Tug of War With Platforms

Given those digital trends, it’s no surprise that publishers are distributing content across audience-rich platforms such as Facebook and Google. They are betting that targeted content on digital platforms will drive traffic back to their own sites—boosting readership, content value, and ad revenue. But the formula for monetizing multi-platform efforts has proved challenging, according to Patricia Orsini, eMarketer analyst and author of the new report, Media’s Digital Challenge: Publisher Strategies for Monetizing Content Across Platforms.  Instead of the content on platforms scaling up audience for most publishers, “readers spent more time with those platforms, and therefore boosted revenue to those platforms,” Orsini found.

For more on the digital publishing trend predictions from the Publishing Executive article, go to http://www.pubexec.com/post/4-digital-publishing-trends-watch-2017/

Growing Magazine Audiences Continue Shift Toward Mobile

The good news for publishers is that total audience—across print, Web, mobile and video—grew robustly in 2016, up 6.4% over the prior year, according to the 2016 Magazine Media 360° Brand Audience Report from the Association of Magazine Media (MPA). But there is a challenge for publications within the data: the continued shift to a mobile audience. Certainly, at AccuList USA®, we have seen mobile optimization and responsive design become a key consideration in the multi-channel marketing strategies offered to consumer publication and business publication clients.

Desktop/Laptop Viewing Loses Traction to Mobile

Although print and digital editions continued to garner the largest audience for magazine media last year, the mobile platform had the most rapid growth rate, per the MPA’s trend analysis. Nearly 80% of the brands reporting showed mobile growth, with 79% of those brands up by either double- or triple-digit percentages. More than a quarter of the brands in the report grew their mobile unique visitors by one million or more each. That mobile growth came at the expense of Web (desktop/laptop) users.  In fact, the Web audience represented the only magazine media platform to decline as consumers spent more time on portable devices than computers. Meanwhile, though video remained the smallest audience platform in 2016, it also recorded strong growth, per MPA, up by double-digit percentage rates.

Print’s Lead Role Endures

“The key takeaway from this most recent analysis is that print still makes up the biggest portion of magazine media audiences, yet continued growth in mobile web means that the total audience continues to get bigger overall and reflects the multi-platform preferences of today’s readers,” concluded Linda Thomas Brooks, president and CEO of MPA, in a press release.

And the Winners Are…

Meanwhile, even though 2016 was an election year, nonpolitical interests led the way to top spots for magazine brands. Per the 2016 analysis, the top five magazines with the most total audience—across print, Web, mobile and video—were (in descending order) ESPN The Magazine, People, Forbes, Allrecipes and Better Homes and Gardens. The top five magazine brands with the greatest percentage growth in total audience compared to a year ago were (in descending order) DominoThe New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, W and Esquire.

For more see http://www.magazine.org/industry-news/press-releases/mpa-press-releases/mpa/mpa-%E2%80%93-association-magazine-media-releases-2016