New Rules For Magazine Sales: It's The Reader, Stupid

The Magazine Publishers of America's "The New Rules for Selling Advertising" panel advised advertisers in New York on Thursday that reader quality was not determined by the method by which a reader acquires a magazine or how much they pay for it--but that their engagement with editorial and advertising content would be the key value for advertisers to consider.

"The same challenges in new clothes" was how moderator John Griffin, President of the National Geographic Magazine Group and a member of the ABC Board of Directors, characterized the hurdles facing magazine advertising to the audience at the McGraw-Hill Auditorium in Manhattan.

McPheters and Company president Rebecca McPheters urged companies to "shift their focus away from consumer metrics to 'proof' of circulation and ROI (return on investment)," and displayed research asserting that the price that a consumer paid for a particular magazine did not in fact predict the quality of the reader.

Subscribers who paid less for a magazine subscription were as desirable as those who paid more, she said.

Tom Robinson, managing director of Affinity Research, noted that although slightly lower than for paid readers, overall readership of editorial features and recall scores for print ads for non-paid readers still remained surprisingly robust in his group's research.

Affinity's VISTA Print Effectiveness Rating Service determined that paid versus unpaid ad recall was 54 percent versus 49 percent, respectively; brand association 86 percent to 83 percent; and actions taken 53 percent to 52 percent.

The morning's final speaker, Rick Jones, President and CEO of DJG Marketing, tied things up by asserting that public placement of magazines could only help extend their reach, with each copy generating further readers. Jones also reiterated the strength of targeting location and demographics when determining where to place copies.

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