Major magazine publishers are mounting an ambitious industry-wide initiative to guarantee return on investment for print advertising, with a promise of additional free advertising placements to make good any shortfalls. The new program, called the “Print Magazine Sales Guarantee,” was announced by the MPA – The Association of Magazine Media late Monday.
The sales guarantee is available to advertisers that meet several requirements to qualify.
First, product sales must be measurable via consumer purchase data, and the campaign must aim for at least 150 gross ratings points (GRPs) among adults 18 and older. The program will then compare product sales between test groups of exposed households and households who weren’t exposed, to determine the average gain in sales per exposed household, and so calculate return on investment.
In support of the guarantee, the MPA cited studies including a meta-analysis by Millward Brown of over 100 ad effectiveness studies conducted on behalf of advertisers, which found that print ads topped key measures, including persuasion metrics like brand favorability and purchase intent relative to other platforms.
The Millward Brown meta-analysis also suggested that digital campaigns were more effective when conducted in conjunction with traditional media campaigns including print.
The MPA also pointed to a neuroscience analysis by Nomos Research summarized in an article titled “What Can Neuroscience Tell Us About Why Print Magazine Advertising Works?” The report details how consumer reactions to print and digital media differ, including memorability and emotional responses, and the specific role played by print in cross-platform campaigns.
Stephen Lacy, CEO of women’s interest publisher Meredith Corp. and chairman of the MPA, stated: “The Print Magazine Sales Guarantee is a clear and powerful statement that magazine media provides unique value to advertisers. We are confident in our product, its future, and the unique role that print magazines play in our multi-platform ecosystem to drive ROI and lift advertisers’ brand sales.”
Back in 2011, Meredith pioneered magazine ad sales guarantees through its ROI by combining data from Nielsen Homescan, which tracks consumer product purchases, with Meredith’s national customer database to determine the purchase behaviors of consumers exposed to specific brand advertising in Meredith magazines. That was compared with the purchase behaviors of identical shoppers with no exposure. In 2012, Nielsen Catalina Solutions began to provide measurement incorporating millions of shopper data households into the sales measurement methodology.
Around the same time, Time Inc. introduced PinPoint, which compares Time Inc. subscriber data with shopper data from NCS. It determined which magazine readers bought which products after being exposed to print advertising.
Hearst Magazines and Conde Nast have also launched programs linking ad placements to sales results. The industry-wide guarantee extends and formalizes these previous initiatives.