Magazines high on engagement but efficacy is key (+Video)

10 Jul,2012

By Our Correspondents


The best compliment that befits the domain of print is its ability to appease the readership preferences of its readers while continuing to be a favourite with the advertisers as well. This is especially true in the case of magazines that continue to demand loyalty from consumers while at the same time enabling brands to come up with campaigns that can be as intimate and personal thereby ensuring maximum bang for their buck. But despite all the hype and hopes surrounding the medium, there is also talk of magazines not being able to do enough to prep up advertisers to loosen their purse strings, a fact that is compounded by the lack of (creative) ad innovations that continue to deprive the sector of its fast growth.


As a way to measure the acceptability of magazines amongst its readers and find out its favourability with brands, Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) engaged the services of two research agencies IMRB and Quantum to carry out an Engagement Survey in the Indian marketplace. With a sample size of 3600 and spread across 10 cities, the survey had pretty interesting facets to throw up. Facets that could help revive the glory that magazines once commanded and even emerge an absolute favourite with the advertisers.


Tarun Rai
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Unveiling to the gathering some of the findings from the survey, Tarun Rai, CEO of WWM and President of AIM began by bringing to light how the media marketplace in India has seen an immense transformation. Be it television that has seen the number of channels exceed 745 in the last three decades or even newspapers and magazines that keep sprouting intermittently, the medium has never seen such a head rush ever before. In effect, media has become an ‘Always On’ medium in India today. But too many options have also led to the consumer becoming more distracted and confused leading to him/her losing trust on the medium. According to Mr Rai, the question that needs to be asked is whether everyone is communicating messages or just communicating noise and better still, whether there was a need for owners to move from more messages to better connections with the consumers? Mr Rai didn’t hesitate here when he said that “magazines make better connections than any other medium.”


Proceeding to present more findings, Mr Rai said that magazines stood out as it was able to connect with the readers at a far deeper level and that they rated higher on engagement and trust scores. Other stats include: 68 per cent readers read magazines when they’re alone while 66 per cent turn to magazines when they want to relax; 87 per cent readers do nothing else while reading a magazine compared to television that recorded 40 per cent; only 12 per cent ad avoidance was recorded for magazines – the lowest by far for any medium and most importantly, 84 per cent of the readers believed that ads are part of the magazine experience and that they are not interruptions as was previously thought.


Adding further, Mr Rai said, “The high points are the facts that this research very conclusively prove that magazines engage the readers and audiences the best across all media. Whether it is on trust, whether it is on propensity to purchase or whether it is time spent on magazine, there is no other medium which engages as best as the magazines do.”


Shashi Sinha
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To verify the several advantages that magazines had to offer and whether the power of the medium was being harnessed to its fullest, the evening proceeded to a panel discussion that included the likes of KV Sridhar, National Creative Director, Leo Burnett; Mrinmoy Mukherjee, Director – Marketing & Business Development, Raymond; Nathalie Gerschtein, General Manager, Garnier India; Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal and Shubhranshu Singh, Director – Marketing, India & South Asia, Visa. The session was moderated by Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media group.


According to Ms Gerschtein, while magazines were a key medium for FMCG companies like Garnier, it was essential for them to be relevant and contextual to the needs of brands. She went on to cite one such example which demonstrated the power of magazines in enhancing the visibility and personality of a brand. The brand was L’Oreal Paris that was celebrating 40 years and the magazine with which it partnered was Femina, that had attributes which were similar to what was required.


Mr Sridhar was at his explosive best as he began by expressing his love for the medium of print. “I have grown up on print advertising and I can say that if you are a book lover you will never go to the movies. That’s because the written word has more power; in fact it will never go out of power.” Adding further, Sridhar said that all mediums today are efficiency driven but it was important for them to have an emotional connect with their consumers – something that television has being doing so well. “It is important for every medium to reinvent itself because ultimately branding is about finding a purpose in people’s lives. According to a recent survey it was found that people were inspired more by brands (13 out of 20) than by celebrities, which is noteworthy. It is therefore essential for brands to build an emotional connect as it does in providing efficiency.”


Mrinmoy Mukherjee
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According to Mr Singh, it is important to know that engagement is a two-way thing. Consumers are leading their lives in continuum today and mediums have to be able to accommodate to his needs faster than ever. “When I talk to a brand, I expect it to talk back to me and keep evolving. That is where the challenge lay for brands and magazine owners.”


Said Mr Mukherjee, “There were several high points from the survey but what is important is that this survey brings out several areas which ensure that you get the information about how the consumer connects with magazines and that is overall a high point. It is also an enabler for decision making for brand owners.” Speaking on the importance of such surveys for the magazine industry, he said, “the survey is a first of its kind and it is important because it tells media planners and brand owners what they should be putting their monies on. Therefore it is like creating a currency basis which they get to decide.”


Providing his insights on the survey, Mr Sinha said that the Engagement Survey is a very powerful idea. “There is a lot of data, but the data must be presented in the right manner to the media planner because media planners look at the numbers from IRS (Indian Readership Survey). The best thing would be to go agency by agency and present this data to media planners at the universal level, which is when this survey will be very powerful.” According to him, “Such surveys are important to open up people’s eyes and minds but, finally if you make it part of the mainstream survey like for instance a substitute for IRS or part of IRS on continuous basis, then that is where it is important otherwise it will be the way it is.”


Advocating the future that lay ahead for the magazine industry, Mr Sinha said, “I believe that the year 2013 and 2014 will be a very big year not only because of what the magazines are doing but also what is going to happen to television. So depending on what the government decides to do both from digitization point of view and the restriction of advertising point of view, there will be an increase in cost for television. So a lot of advertisers who cannot afford television will look at alternate medium and magazines will be very viable for SEC A audiences. So I think it will become a lot more mass effective medium then.”


When asked whether magazines have been looking to overpower other prominent media vehicles in the future, Mr Rai said, “We are not here to replace any media. All we are saying is that magazines do certain things that no other media can do. Magazines engage with consumers at a much deeper level and at a much more consistent level than any other media. A lot of people think magazines only build brands and that they don’t need to actually purchase but, our research shows that the propensity to purchase the call to action after seeing an advertisement in a magazine is highest amongst all media. So we are trying to now talk about the fact that magazines are not just good for brand building but, we also give you the best return on investment (ROI) where purchase and call to action are concerned. So we just want to start a new conversation which is beyond numbers, beyond eyeballs and talks about the quality of engagement and the quality of messaging.”


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