Given the glossy sheen, colour, and other innovative ideas that creatives play around with, a print advertisement looks the best in a magazine. Even the milieu it is set in indicates more involvement. Add to this a longer shelf life, and one has higher frequency.
These are the ideal ingredients of a good media vehicle. However, all this does not reflect in a media plan. It is worth exploring the factors that cause this and the future of magazine advertising. Here is a view from the advertiser’s window.
B V Pradeep, President, Market Research Society of India says, “When you want to build markets by educating a consumer and consecutively aiming at a habit change, a magazine is an ideal tool. In products like skin care, which have to be communicated in detail and the requirement is more than just brand salience, a magazine proves to be an excellent medium of communication.”
Despite this, why is magazine advertising not looking up? “That’s more of a numerical issue,” replies H K Press, Executive Director and President, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. “Imagery and information are the prime benefits that a magazine offers. But there are other important factors where magazines take a beating to TV. Whether you look at it in terms of cost per thousand or in matters of reach, magazines don’t deliver the way other mediums do, or even for that matter in the print medium itself, a newspaper does.”
Though newspapers are still close to the consumer’s heart, magazines are losing out to other media. Is there a way out? “They have to get more innovative in the kind of advertising they allow a brand to do. The idea to let a consumer sample a product by giving it with the magazine was a good one. They should concentrate on these things. They could look at leveraging initiatives like providing relevant database or customer relationship management opportunities so that there is something unique they offer which other mediums can’t,” remarks Press.
“With a magazine, there’s a reader’s experience and a consumer’s experience. They should try and better the latter to attract advertisers,” adds Pradeep. “Every piece of the product is in the consumer’s hands. This is a magazine’s strength and they must try and build on it.”
In this evolution process, the magazine content has also changed. Today we see magazines getting more niche, and as per Pradeep, this is the future of the medium. Says he, “Magazine usage will become far more focussed. We will get into communicating specifics, which has its advantages. Due to the content fit, like beauty products in a woman’s magazine, the product will be there when the consumer is in the mood to read about beauty, unlike a TVC where you are not sure if the 30 seconder will get the consumer in the right mood. The impact in the magazine hence is better. A magazine is turning into an interest-specific vehicle. There isn’t reach but the target is precise.” This is one reason why upper end product categories are served better by magazines.
The advent of more niche magazines is long due. Meanwhile, it is hard to believe that general interest magazines would resign to their fate. Perhaps, quite a few publication houses would venture into niche magazines or tweak their content to retain the existing audiences. But will they be able to beat dailies and television in the numbers game? It seems an uphill task.