Nine months ago, the Periodical Publishers Association, faced with a
declining share of ad revenue for magazines, announced a project in
which top publishers would put aside old rivalries and pitch for the
industry as a whole.
The idea was to have the likes of the National Magazine Company, Conde
Nast and IPC in one room, telling clients why they should be putting
more of their budget into magazines.
It was an initiative designed to do what the Radio Advertising Bureau
has done for commercial radio; alert advertisers to the potential of the
But there has been recent speculation that the scheme is floundering,
that not enough pitches have taken place, and that the egos of competing
sales and advertising directors are getting in the way of a united
Despite all that, the PPA is adamant that the campaign is alive and
kicking and getting results. It says the association has helped nurture
a number of meetings between top names in magazines and blue-chip
Publishers IPC, G&J and Bauer have canvassed firms such as SmithKline
Beecham, which traditionally rely on TV advertising.
PPA chief executive Ian Locks admits that the scheme may have moved
slower than planned, and there have been scheduling problems in getting
different magazine sales chiefs together.
But he is quick to point out that there is no instant remedy: ‘It is
taking longer than we initially hoped. It is true that some are becoming
impatient. They’re not quick-fix visits. We’re asking big advertisers,
largely committed to TV, to reconsider their policies.’
He says big players in the magazine industry have been keen to back the
scheme because they need to reverse their diminishing share of national
ad spend. In 1994, consumer magazines had a 6.6% share of total national
ad revenue and in 1995 this fell to 6.5%. Locks puts this down to ‘a
bigger cake and more market players’.
TV and radio advertising are seen by clients and agencies as having an
immediate and broad impact. Monthly magazines are useful for brand-
building exercises, but are not particularly relevant for price-
Richard Britton, non-broadcast director for CIA Medianetwork explains:
‘Magazines have physical limitations preventing them getting that
business. However, magazines, like cinema, have a captive audience. When
your message is prolonged, you gain some degree of sustainability.’
One sector which Britton says magazines should target is financial
services. A source inside one leading financial service company, said
he would like his company to consider a mix that would include
magazines, but the board preferred the more traditional TV and poster
TMD Carat director Neil Jones says: ‘Magazines are an extension of TV
advertising. People generally trust what they see in magazines.
Advertorials are a good growth sector.’
While Nick Handley, ad sales director for the Reader’s Digest, claims he
is already seeing a revenue boost from his efforts with other magazine
publishers, Mike Baker, divisional advertising and marketing director at
IPC, believes the pay-off will be long-term. But Baker is pleased there
is improved co-operation within the magazine industry.
Handley says that the meetings have been a learning process for magazine
ad sales directors. ‘It’s been an opportunity for clients to talk after
the presentations about their feelings concerning consumer magazines,
and where they think things could be improved to make us more cost
The PPA has a lot of work to do, if it is to live up to the precedent
set by the radio industry. Damian Blackden, Zenith Media’s press
director, draws inevitable comparisons. ‘The PPA’s initiative appears to
have suffered from a lack of resources and objectivity. The RAB and
Newspaper Society employ individuals specifically to promote, add
credibility and build awareness of their media.’
Advertising in the magazine sector
* Magazine publishers who are canvassing for more magazine advertising
revenue include: IPC, Conde Nast, Emap, National Magazines, BBC, Hello,
Reader’s Digest, Redwood, Haymarket Magazines, G & J, H Bauer.
* TV advertising dominated ad revenue in 1995, with a 32.1% share, while
consumer magazines accounted for 6.5% and business/ professional
magazines 11.3%. In 1993, TV had a slightly bigger stake with 32.7%,
while business/ professional magazines had just 10.5% of total ad
* The increase in print prices has slightly lowered the national
newspapers’ stake from 18% in 1993 to 17.6% in 1995.
This article was first published on Marketing