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FIPP’s Research Forum, Budapest, March 2008

Guy Consterdine, convenor of FIPP’s Research Forum, reports on the event. Participants were kept up to date with key developments in magazine research.


Fresh evidence continues to accumulate about the strength of readers’ engagement with their magazines, and the way that magazines drive consumers to access the internet and to create ‘buzz’ through word of mouth communication. New research underlines the unique contribution of magazines within mixed-media advertising campaigns, and the effectiveness of the medium whether used on its own or combined with other channels. Innovations continue to be made to the way that editorial content can be researched, including assessing front cover design.

FIPP’s third Research Forum was held in Budapest, Hungary, on 18 & 19 March 2008, hosted by publisher Ringier-Kiado. Under the chairmanship of Dr. Adrian Weser of Bauer Media KG, Germany, forty-eight research professionals from sixteen countries spent two productive days discussing the latest developments in magazine research.


One theme was readers’ engagement with their chosen magazines. Corina Soethof of NUV (Dutch Publishers Association) described the 2007 Magazine Engagement Study conducted in The Netherlands. Readers consciously set aside time for their magazines, which inform, inspire and relax. The advertisements are relevant and have a meaning to the readers. Consequently, changes in behaviour as a result of exposure to the ads are strongest among the most engaged readers.

But do young people, who have grown up with the internet and other digital media, find magazines engaging? Dr. Adrian Weser of Bauer Media presented research in Germany for youth magazine Bravo. Each medium has a definable place in the lives of young people. For magazines, there are multiple roles: acting as a personal gatekeeper or editor, selecting and compressing relevant information; providing advice; informing about trends, such as what’s in and out of fashion; and providing material for conversation. Moreover young people find advertising is more acceptable in magazines than in the other major media.

Multiplier effects

Innovative research in The Netherlands has utilised large internet samples to collect information on campaign exposure and its effects. The Research Forum discussed work reported by Corina Soethof which harnessed the TNS Media Observer online panel to show the relative strengths of magazines, television and the internet within multimedia campaigns. In any particular campaign, the strengths of effect achieved by a medium may vary according to the criterion being measured – ad recognition, brand awareness, buying intention, etc – but magazine advertising always made an important contribution in achieving campaign goals. There were also multiplier effects, where synergy between magazine and internet advertising made the whole greater than the sum of the parts. In addition, in many multi-media campaigns there is overspending in television.

Magazines and the internet

The internet has been proved to be an effective advertising medium, especially in its role as a direct-response mechanism, but much of the traffic it enjoys is generated by offline media. Magazines are particularly cost-efficient in this role, as shown by research reported by Phil Cutts of the UK’s Periodical Publishers Association. Magazines and television are the dominant media in driving both online search and online purchasing, but magazines are the more cost-efficient.

A second study revealed by Phil Cutts showed the effectiveness of magazines in generating ‘buzz’ for advertisers – word of mouth communication.

Robert Witteman of Sanoma Uitgevers, The Netherlands, gave an informative case study of an established stand-alone ‘pure player’ website, Kieskeurig, an online buying guide covering 170 product categories. It launched a branded magazine to help increase the usage of the website. The magazine did indeed generate substantial new traffic for the website, especially among women who had been under-represented before. It also contributed to a higher sales conversion rate for retailers, and created a fresh revenue stream through the advertising in the magazine itself.

FIPP’s latest study of successful consumer magazine websites was presented by Guy Consterdine, FIPP’s Research Consultant and author of the study.

Researching editorial content

In an informative session about researching editorial content, George Mikaberydze of Hachette Filipacchi Shkulev, Russia, described the Simulated Test Market system for assessing new magazine concepts. Consumers in the target audience are presented with the concept in as normal an environment as possible. Several phases of research include setting up a mock shop selling magazines, with the new proposition included among the established magazines on the shelves.

Information about front covers research emerged from examples presented by Kathi Love of Mediamark Research & Intelligence, USA. MRI’s online technique for measuring the readership of individual issues of magazines has led to a deeper appreciation of the selling power of certain front-cover topics – strong celebrities (e.g. Johnny Depp); ‘best of’ features; specific hot topics which exist in particular segments; and so on.

Andras Math of Ringier-Kiado, Hungary, opened up a fruitful debate about ways of making research results intelligible and actionable.

Circulation and readership

Publishers around the world can be puzzled why their circulation and readership figures have sometimes not moved in the same direction. Guy Consterdine discussed analyses in the UK conducted by himself and Katherine Page, technical consultant to the National Readership Survey. The result was a list of 23 reasons why the number of readers per copy may be expected to vary from time to time. The presentation also reviewed the current debate in the UK about whether readers-per-copy data should be 'smoothed' in order to bring short-term readership trends more into line with short-term circulation trends. The conclusion was to reject smoothing.

Magazine advertising effectiveness

In a separate presentation, Guy Consterdine summarised some recent developments in magazine advertising research. These included the imminent publication of TouchPoints 2 in the UK, the cancellation of Project Apollo in the USA, and the MPA’s new initiative for improved magazine measurement and accountability. He went on to review two studies – one from France and one from The Netherlands - which proposed methods of determining the optimum amount of advertising investment to place in magazine or television campaigns. In some cases it can be demonstrated that too much has been spent in television. Other studies mentioned – by Dynamic Logic and Market Evolution – proved the value of using magazines within a TV-internet-magazine mixed media campaign.

Exciting time for magazine research

It is a very exciting time to be involved in magazine audience research. The challenges include tracking the evolving audiences across multiple platforms, and utilising new research methods which are becoming available.

The debate and exchange of views can be continued on FIPP’s new electronic discussion group (“egroup”) at

The presentations

The presentations given at the Research Forum were as follows:

• “The Dutch Engagement Study”, Corina Soethof, Dutch Publishers Association
• “Engagement and the consumer benefit of magazines among young people”, Adrian Weser, Heinrich Bauer Verlag, Germany
• “Routes To Success For Consumer Magazine Websites”, Guy Consterdine, Guy Consterdine Associates, UK
• “Magazine plus website brand launch: how one medium triggers the other”, Robert Witteman, Sanoma Uitgivers, The Netherlands
• “Magazines in the driving seat: offline drivers of online search and purchase”, Phil Cutts, Periodical Publishers Association, UK
• “Targeting Influentials: a study of word of mouth communication”, Phil Cutts
• “The Simulated Test Market method for evaluating a proposed magazine”, George Mikaberydze, Hachette Filipacchi Shkulev, Russia
• “MRI’s issue specific study: establishing utility”, Kathi Love, MRI, USA
• “The readers-per-copy problem”, Guy Consterdine
• “Studies of magazine advertising’s effectiveness: summary of some recent developments”, Guy Consterdine

For further information about the Research Forum and any of the topics discussed, email    


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