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Ad Sales Workshop, Warsaw, March 2005

A personal view by Guy Consterdine, Workshop Programme Chairman and FIPP Research Consultant

Magazine advertising is effective for selling products, and research evidence is vital for persuading advertisers and agencies. The nature of that evidence, and how it can be used, were central themes of FIPP’s second Ad Sales Workshop, held in Warsaw in March.

The Workshop reviewed some of the most significant research studies into the way readers use their magazines, and examined proof of the effectiveness of magazine advertising campaigns. The focus was on promoting the medium rather than individual publications.

A measure of the success of the Workshop was that, instead of the anticipated 40-60 attendees, just over 100 people attended. 20 countries were represented, including almost all the Central & Eastern European (CEE) countries.

Another measure of success came from the delegates’ feedback questionnaires. The Workshop earned high average scores, as did the individual speakers.

A major benefit was exchanging experiences of what research is available and how it is used in other countries than one’s own. This led to considering how best practice could be adapted to one’s home market. Many studies were reviewed which proved magazines’ ability to create awareness, sell products, make other media work harder, and create a positive return on investment. Some of these studies could be replicated in countries which currently do not have them.

A feature of the Workshop was the breakout discussion groups. After each set of three or four presentations, delegates broke up into smaller groups in order to discuss the topics which had been presented. Then the highlights of each group’s discussions were reported back to all delegates in plenary session. The final set of discussion groups was devoted to a media strategy planning exercise, which put into practice many of the main ideas debated earlier. It was fun too.

The international Workshop was followed by a well-attended half-day conference for Polish advertising and media agencies. Three of the Workshop speakers were on duty again to describe the research-based case for using magazines and newspapers for their advertising campaigns.

FIPP is most grateful to the sponsors of the Workshop for making the event financially viable: international research agency Ipsos, and publishers Agora, Wprost, Media Express, and Murator Wydawnictwo. FIPP also appreciates the assistance received from IWP, the Polish Chamber of Press Publishers.

Channel planning

A central point of the first two speakers’ presentations was that advertising and media agencies are assessing magazines in the context of a very wide range of channels of communication. These include not only the traditional media such as television and magazines but also the internet, other new digital media, point of sale, point of consumption, sponsorship and so on.

Presenting an agency view, Anna Lubowska of Mediaedge:cia in Poland stressed that since the communication needs of the brand are core, it is vital for the magazine industry to demonstrate how magazines can convey brand messages. Agencies are interested in people’s engagement with an advertisement rather than merely contact with it – and this is a strength of the magazine medium. In countries where television advertising costs are cheaper than magazine costs (Poland being an extreme example of this), publishers must try to shift the argument away from ratings and reach and onto affinity with the medium, where magazines do well. Lubowska added that another strength on which the medium needs to capitalise is the way in which magazines complement other media.

My own presentation on this topic reviewed several research studies which measure a wide range of communication channels. The implications for magazine publishers are that there is pressure to change the currency from the traditional ‘opportunities to see’ to ‘opportunities taken’; measuring physical exposure to advertisements must be combined with measuring involvement with the ads; and that publishers must deepen our understanding of how media can work together.

Marketing strategies for promoting magazines

There was great interest in sessions describing how a number of national publishers associations put together coherent packages of research-based arguments making the case for magazines, and how they train magazine sales forces to sell the medium.

Tim Lucas of White Lodge Media consultancy in the UK described the generic marketing strategy of the Periodical Publishers Association (PPA). This involves engaging with advertisers and agencies at the inter-media stage of planning. To do this, senior sales professionals are trained and shown how to represent the magazine medium generically. These ‘magazine advocates’ argue the case for magazines based on consumer behaviour, brand strategy, communication objectives,  the role of advertising, and the place of magazines within that role. In addition, the entire sales forces of publishers are trained, and their expertise is measured in a Knowledge Audit test. This work is backed up by an online Advertising Resource Centre, a large database of the latest research into the magazine medium. PPA has also introduced a training scheme for advertisers and agencies, to educate brand teams on the power of magazines.

Donald Nekman, communication consultant of DNCC, described Danish experience in getting deeply involved with media decision-makers within advertisers, media agencies and creative agencies. The solution was to set up a Magazine Academy, sponsored by Dansk Magasinpresses Udgiverforening, the Danish magazine publishers association. Participants from advertisers, agencies and publishers attend five days of courses, spread across five months. They debate topics such as the media landscape and where magazines fit in; differences between media; the Media Multiplier; affinity, a magazine strength; reach and frequency; modelling for channel planning; and return on investment.

Patrick Hermie, head of marketing at FeBelMa (Federation Belge des Magazines), the Belgian publishers association, talked about MagLab, the magazine advertising laboratory. It incorporates workshops, presentations, assembling of facts about magazines, promotional activities, a website, and a planning tool called WAR (Weekly Average Reach). WAR takes account of the rate at which the readers of an individual issue of a magazine accumulate week by week. This makes it possible to accurately plot the weekly exposures generated by a magazine campaign, and thus show how magazines can achieve a weekly target reach level. This naturally leads into a discussion of the advantages of recency planning (i.e. continuous advertising, rather than just advertising in big bursts), for which magazines are an ideal medium.

Donald Kummerfeld, President & CEO of FIPP, outlined the marketing plans of Magazine Publishers of America, whose members have allocated a promotional budget of $40 million across three years.

One point emphasised in the discussion groups was that just pumping research into the market and hoping that agency planners will notice it does not work very well. What is much more effective is training the sales force, improving their product knowledge so that they can go out and confidently use the research themselves, quoting it to agencies whenever relevant.

It was clear from these sessions that magazine advocacy at an industry level is a growing force. Moreover the lessons being learned in any one country are increasingly spreading to other countries. The magazine medium is benefiting from a more global outlook. International experience can be adapted and applied locally. FIPP can help to facilitate this by spreading awareness of what others are doing – through the Workshops and other events, and through FIPP’s regular printed and electronic communications.

Research on print media

A session of four papers was devoted to research studies about the effectiveness of print media.
Eamonn Byrne, deputy director general of World Association of Newspapers (WAN) in France, presented an impressive array of studies about newspapers, from around the world. His main conclusions were that different media channels influence consumers in different ways, and therefore advertisers who use television only are missing out on significant parts of their potential; press helps build brand values and sales; and press advertising has been proved to work. Effective advertising is a result of the power of the medium multiplied by the power of the advertisement – and therefore the creative quality of the ad is vital. More pre-testing of print ads should be done.

Adrian Weser, head of media marketing at H. Bauer in Germany, had prepared a paper proving that magazine advertising can sell products. Unfortunately at the last minute he was unable to come to Warsaw, and in his place Phil Cutts, marketing director of PPA, made an excellent job of stepping in and delivering the presentation. Much of the evidence was based on the Regio Test technique in Germany. This is a regional test facility through which different media strategies may be compared in the live marketplace. It measures not only sales but also other factors such as advertising awareness, brand awareness, image, intention to purchase, and so on. Econometric modelling is then used to assess the contribution of each element of the marketing mix, including the performance of the magazine advertising. A series of case studies showed that using magazines in combination with television regularly out-performed a TV-only strategy for the equivalent budget. Mixed-media produced a clear multiplier effect, and particularly strong effects on certain subgroups within the target audience. The linkage in the creative executions in the two media was crucial, for the multiplier effect to be maximised. Advertisers were able to assess the media strategy in terms of achievement of their own communication goals, because clients were involved in the regional tests from the beginning. Other lessons were that it is important to agree the performance benchmarks before the test begins; to include measures which enable publishers to argue on an emotional level as well as a rational one; to involve the brand managers as well as the media people; and to encourage the advertisers to bear some of the costs of the research, since this raises the commitment to act on the conclusions, and positions publishers as partners.

Gilbert Saint Joanis, research director of Emap Media in France, examined a further range of international research experience, drawing on examples from India, France, UK, Germany and USA. These studies used a variety of methods for proving that magazines contribute more to a campaign than spending the money on more television. It is clearly a global phenomenon, and it is not dependent on the research technique used.

My own presentation in this session examined how the communication works when magazines are combined with television. A first point is that the distribution of exposures is much better, with the lighter viewers especially benefitting. Even more significant are the communication effects. Typically, a magazine ad communicates additional things beyond those communicated by seeing a TV commercial, and then – when the commercial is seen subsequently – this leads consumers to perceive new things in the TV ad. The magazine advertising affects the way people experience the television advertising; it enhances the response to it. Magazines make television work harder – as well as being highly effective in their own right.

Since many countries, particularly in CEE, do not yet have a rich body of research studies, one debating point was how far can research studies conducted in one country be applied in another? Most of the conclusions about the characteristics of magazines are universal, so in theory the research results are transferable. However the general view at the Workshop was that studies carried out in another country run the risk of being dismissed in the home country, simply on the grounds that we are different here. Consequently a prime value of international research is to highlight key issues that can be measured by research, and show what research techniques can be used to do so. Then the research can be replicated in the home country. In summary, use the evidence from other countries if necessary (and international advertisers are more likely to be receptive than national ones), but only until local studies can be put in place.

Putting together the case for magazines

In the final session of the Workshop Tim Lucas put together the points already established from previous presentations, and assembled them as an all-round case for magazine advertising. This included the nature of the reading experience; the close relationship between readers and their favourite magazines; and the way this rubs off onto the advertising, so that the magazine is perceived as endorsing the advertised products. It continued with the different but complementary nature of magazines and television; proof that magazines can generate awareness, sales and a good return on investment; and the benefits of recency planning (a strength for magazines) versus planning for frequency (which implies long inactive periods between bursts of advertising).

To put these ideas into practice, the final breakout discussion groups worked on a media strategy exercise, designed to bring forth the arguments for including magazines within the campaign.

Final thoughts

“We want decisions in Poland made on the basis of good research – not because the planner has received a good holiday in Hawaii!” declared Wieslaw Podkanski, president of the Polish Chamber of Press Publishers. In some countries there are certainly some media planning problems which research cannot easily resolve, such as handsome end-of-year bonuses to agency planners if they spend a specified minimum sum with a television channel. But in the long run open-ness and transparency - revealing all practices - combined with powerful research evidence, should enable magazine publishers to fight on an even playing field.

All the Powerpoint presentations, and some photographs of the Workshop, may be downloaded from FIPP’s website at www.fipp.com/1610
Further information about the Workshop’s sponsors - international research agency Ipsos, and publishers Agora, Wprost, Media Express, and Murator Wydawnictwo – can be accessed via www.fipp.com/1614


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