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Why magazines?

As far back as 1928, as radio was sweeping the world, media pundits were predicting the death of print and, with it, the demise of serious reporting.
Why would people buy a paper if they had heard the results of a prizefight or a political debate the night before?

But, as writer Matt Novak pointed out in design and technology website Gizmodo, there were some who kept the faith and believed that newspapers weren't going anywhere. And they were right - the heyday of print was still to come.

In a January 1929 article, tabloid reporter Silas Bent wrote of a newspaper industry in a state of transition, waking up to the reality of a new medium that had initially been "ridiculed with broad grins". However, Bent was confident that although newspapers would have to evolve, they would survive by giving the context and analysis that radio could not.

Equally applicable today

As Novak says, "much of Bent's analysis could be cut-and-pasted into an article about today's media landscape."

It is true that the internet is doing (and some would argue already has done) to print media what radio and television did before it and, as an industry, we are going to have to adapt massively if we are to survive.

It is also true that there will be many casualties along the way but we are confident that magazines in general and Caxton's titles in particular will not fall by the wayside.

Magazines, and especially niched publications like ours - we have 12 successful titles covering a broad swathe of topics from family and women's issues to décor, entertainment to farming - have thrived because we have traditionally done two things very well: we have always told stories that resonate deeply with our readers and given our readers the opportunity to engage with us. This hasn't changed, although the way we tell our stories and have the conversations has changed. For example, Rooi Rose has always received letters asking for advice about what to wear on that special occasion - we still do, except now these come on email or via social media.

Magazines must engage with their readers on multiple platforms

Magazines can no longer appear in isolation as printed periodicals but must engage with their readers on their websites and social media platforms.

Because of this special relationship that we have with our readers, as an industry we remain a fantastic channel for brands wanting to communicate with consumers.

Research into its readers' behaviour by leading UK magazine publisher IPC Media showed that magazine brands sparked ideas across all platforms with print having the most amount of influence of actual purchases from both shops and online. The research showed that 45% of respondents to a 2014 survey saying that print had inspired a purchase compared with 40% who said that digital editions had motivated them to buy, 38% for apps and 34% from the web.

In addition to this, some 89% of consumers got ideas from print compared with 81% from online, 77% from apps and 72% are inspired by social media.

The IPC survey also looked at which platforms triggered online searches and found that 57% were driven by the print editions, 60% by websites and 67% by digital editions.

Print also leads the way in generating word-of-mouth buzz, with 64% of respondents saying they had shared from print brands and 52% had shared from both digital editions and apps. Just 49% shared from the internet and 36% from social media channels, IPC said.

Bottom line? Magazines work!

Research into the efficacy of FMCG advertisements done by the UK's Professional Publishers Association (PPA), which represents 220 publishers, shows that the average sales value for a group of consumers exposed to magazine advertisements grew twice as fast (21.6%) as sales to a non-exposed group of consumers (10%).

"In nearly all cases, the magazine campaigns had a positive impact on sales," and campaigns where more than half the budget was spent on magazines significantly outperformed those where magazines played a smaller role.

Given that, in the first quarter of this year, total consumer magazine circulation was just shy of 5.9 million, magazines remain a great way for companies to tell consumers about their brands and how they can use them in ways that make their lives better.

And because of the special role that magazines play in their readers' lives they are able to deliver repeat opportunities for engagement with an attentive and emotionally involved audience that is receptive to all content, including advertising.

And that is why magazines matter. As much as they ever have.

About Clive Vanderwagen

Clive Vanderwagen is a writer, business management trainer and facilitator, and coach.

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