Magazines score high on engagement but integration is key (+Videos)

19 Jul,2012

Text and Videos by Shruti Pushkarna


The three city tour organized by Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) to present the AIM Engagement Survey to the industry stakeholders came to end yesterday (July 18). After Mumbai and Bangalore the survey findings were presented in Delhi followed by a panel discussion on ‘Magazines- The Power of Engagement’.


AIM engaged two research agencies, IMRB and Quantum to carry out an Engagement Survey in the Indian marketplace on a sample size of 3,600 spread across 10 cities. AIM’s Vice President and President and Publisher, Chitralekha Group, Mr Mitrajit Bhattacharya started the session by presenting the survey findings briefly.


Mr Bhattacharya began by saying that the world we live in today is an ‘always on’ media world where we are surrounded by laptops, TV, mobiles, social media and so on. This world, he said, leads to a ‘distracted consumer’ which in turn leads to noise. He added that today the focus is on ‘more’ and that’s also the basis of current measurement system.


However the basis of the AIM Engagement survey, he said, was qualitative research.


Pointing out some key findings, Mr Bhattacharya said: “The survey shows that people like to read magazines when they are alone and hence we have their undivided attention. Magazines don’t just inform but engage; they grow on us. And for 8 out of 10 people, magazine advertisements aren’t interruption; they are a part of the experience.”


The survey findings indicate that 66 per cent readers turn to magazines when they want to relax and 87 per cent readers do nothing else while reading a magazine. Ad avoidance for magazines is a mere 12 per cent which is the lowest among all media with TV at 31 per cent. Furthermore, 54 per cent readers trust products more when they are advertised in magazines. And 57 per cent purchase intent based on ads seen in magazines is amongst the highest across media.


Mr Bhattacharya concluded: “There is a need for a different conversation today. A conversation which takes us from quantity to quality; from reach to engagement and from more to better.”


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CVL Srinivas, Starcom MediaVest

The AIM presentation was followed by a panel discussion which was moderated by Mr Maheshwer Peri, Chairman, Pathfinder Publishing India Pvt Ltd. The panelists included Ms Ambika Srivastava, Chairperson, Zenith Optimedia; Mr CVL Srinivas, Chairman, Starcom MediaVest Group India & MD, LiquidThread APAC; Mr Neeraj Kumar, Director-Marketing, Beam India and Mr Santosh Desai, Managing Director & CEO, Futurebrands.


Initiating the discussion, Mr Peri said: “The AIM Engagament Survey was commissioned because there was a need for a survey that had an Indian context to it. All other surveys done by the likes of MPA, FIPP miss out on the Indian context of things.” He added that magazines’ engagement is ‘deep’ and magazines, in a sense, ‘create’ brands.


Sharing a particular finding, Mr Peri said: “Comparing households which were exposed to magazine ads with the households which were not exposed to magazine ads, it was found that in the former’s case, there were 36 per cent more purchases of the particular product.”


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Neeraj Kumar, Beam India

Mr Neeraj Kumar of Beam India agreed that the numbers were all good, but he added that if it were all so good then we won’t be having this discussion on whether magazines engage, connect and work. He said: “Magazines face the same question as brands face today – do we engage and connect enough? We need to see where do magazines fit in the urban consumer’s journey today and whether magazines need to be a device or a screen?”


Mr Kumar admitted that magazines work well from a luxury brand’s perspective, “Luxury brands want to create stories that inspires purchases, a story that is bold and changes attitudes. And magazines do that well.” He said that although luxury brands can harness and leverage this media with great effectiveness, the real challenge is how well can magazines continually stay relevant with ‘millennials’ and ‘screenagers’.


Mr CVL Srinivas of Starcom MediaVest Group confessed to being a magazine lover and he admitted that most of his travel destination choices were inspired by the magazines he read. But he also added that there are several challenges being faced by magazines today. He said, “One of the several challenges is the ‘Digital’. Out of the total digital users, 60 per cent are on phone and the number will only rise because of the ease of consumption. Digital ad spend has already overtaken ad spend of OOH, radio and cinema and the next might be magazines. Digital is 70 per cent of our conversation time today. All young media buyers and planners think digital first, then TV and magazines come much later. I don’t think one can ignore these facts.”


Mr Srinivas emphasized that to thrive in this digital age, magazines need to do a lot more in terms of leveraging digital touch points. He concluded: “Magazines need to ensure that their brand is seen and heard in the digital/social space. Maybe they need to develop shorter formats for digital media. Also, our research has to be more relevant in keeping with the times; we should be able to translate our research into a planning tool for buyers.”


Ms Ambika Srivastava, Chairperson, Zenith Optimedia said that there are a lot of myths about magazines and its consumption, and to an extent the AIM research has addressed some of those myths. She said magazines had a lot of opportunities for brands and how a brand tells its story in a magazine is very critical. Mr Srivastava said: “There are a lot of opportunities in the form of content forms like expert advice, sampling products and celebrity associations.” Ms Srivastava also cited some examples of how products had effectively used magazines to create brand awareness and one of them was Maggi. She concluded by suggesting that perhaps it’s time that a new currency was developed from this research for magazines.


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Santosh Desai, Futurebrands

Mr Santosh Desai of Futurebrands echoed Mr CVL Srinivas’ views on how today’s day and age is all about the ‘digital’. But he disagreed that the problem was of the ‘younger’ v/s the ‘older’. One of the myths he said today was that youngsters have shorter attention spans. And since magazines are a long format medium, it might not stay relevant to today’s youth. Mr Desai pointed out that today’s youth is hooked to gaming which is by no means a short format medium, it is long and engaging. He said: “Yes it’s true that the world that magazines live in is a counterpoint to the world we live in today, but its relevance is still there, there is also ‘complimentarity’ at the same time.”


He added that the new world that is coming up is not just about speed but also about finding space for oneself. The real challenge said Mr Desai: “…is to find a way to integrate media. Digital is the name of a ‘room’, it’s not the ‘furniture’ in the room. All kinds of furniture need to find space in this room.”


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