Publishers around the globe remain active in producing new evidence of the close relationship between readers and their favourite magazines, and the consequent power of magazine advertising. More studies also demonstrate that a media strategy of television plus print normally outperforms a television-only strategy. Just within the last 12 months some major research projects in these areas have been published. Let me mention just five examples, from India, Germany, South Africa, New Zealand and Finland.
A study called ‘Print + TV = The Impact Multiplier’ has proved the existence of the ‘media multiplier’ effect in India. A live market test was conducted by IMRB International, in which five leading brands in different product fields launched new advertising campaigns. Each brand ran television on its own in one city, and television with print in another city.
In terms of advertising recall, creative recall and brand recall, all five brands showed bigger shifts in the media-mix area compared with the TV-only area, on all or some of the various recall measures. Most striking of all were the results concerning knowledge of brand properties. The mixed-media campaign produced higher levels of knowledge than the TV-only campaigns, for every listed attribute of every brand. For three of the brands, questions were asked about intention to purchase. In all three cases the mixed-media campaign produced much greater increases in intention to purchase than did the TV-only campaign (see table).
Intention to purchase (100 = pre-campaign score)
Source: ‘Print + TV = The Impact Multiplier’ (India)
Another example of the effectiveness of print is ‘Ad Proof 1: Advertising Effectiveness of Car Campaigns’, from Germany. This study, conducted by NFO Infratest for Spiegel-Verlag, demonstrated that magazines are more cost-effective than television for advertising cars.
70 car advertising campaigns were studied. The average increase in ‘qualified propensity to buy’, following exposure to advertising, was 41% for TV advertising and 69% for magazine advertising. Since the expenditure in television averaged 1.7 times the expenditure in magazines, the average increase in qualified propensity to buy per euro spent on advertising was about 2.9 times greater for magazines than television.
Another telling result was that, on average, the higher the proportion of the advertising budget that was spent in magazines, the greater the increase in qualified propensity to buy. Campaigns were classified according to the TV-magazine split of their budgets (see table). As the magazine element is reduced there is a clear progression towards lower levels of persuasion.
Increase in qualified propensity to buy, after ad exposure
|Print outspends TV
|Magazines & TV, equal spend
|TV outspends magazines
|TV only (too few to measure)
Source: ‘Ad Proof 1’ (Germany)
The Magazine Publishers Association of South Africa and SAPPI have recently published case histories of successful magazine or mixed-media campaigns, including South African studies on a headache pill and a leading breakfast cereal. Another South African campaign, for a muscle rub, is interesting in showing an advertiser losing market share and awareness levels after significantly cutting its magazine advertising. These studies are part of a wider assessment of the case for magazine advertising, published in a booklet and CD-ROM called ‘Seeing Is Believing’.
In New Zealand a research programme commissioned by the Newspaper Advertising Bureau examined the primary roles of each of the major media. The role of magazines was summarised as ‘connective indulgence’. Consumer magazines operate from a platform of escape and pleasure. They meet a need for indulgence or a treat that reflects people’s aspirations and mindsets. People are able to choose a magazine that reflects a particular interest or focus, and when reading it they become absorbed in that world. Readers use the advertising in magazines to keep in touch with key trends or to target specific areas of interest. The advertising is part of a very specific environment and is read when the reader is in a specific mindset reflecting the nature of the magazine.
A research programme in Finland called Reader Preference Research has shown how paper quality affects readers’ perceptions of magazines and their ads. Paper has subconscious effects. It influences readers’ impressions and preferences. People pay attention to images, and paper influences their perceptions of those images through the way it reproduces colour and details. The look and feel of the paper are important too. While there may be more than one suitable type of paper for a given magazine, each gives subtly different nuances to the overall impression.
Using a large number of focus groups, the Reader Preference Research programme was undertaken by M-real Corporation, the paper & paperboard company, in conjunction with the University of Helsinki’s Department of Psychology. Results were published in summer 2004.
In one test the same advertisement for a watch was printed on different types of paper. 70% of participants thought one of the papers made the watch look more expensive, and emphasised its luxury. Paper and print quality also affect how much information is conveyed by product images. If the details stand out, readers can get a much better idea what a garment or piece of furniture will really look like.
Magazine publishers should therefore ensure that they select paper which supports and enhances the magazine’s intended image and purpose. Paper is more than merely a medium for carrying messages: it should be used as a design element. To advertisers, this is a strong positive for the magazine medium: it provides a superb showcase for presenting their products.