The Million Dollar Question for Marketers

If advertising in magazines is still proven to be more effective than other media, provides a brand safe environment with trusted, credible, fact-checked content and reaches larger audiences than even television, why aren’t marketers reflecting that in their media mixes?

“Beats me,” comes the answer from industry though leader Linda Thomas Brooks. 

As president and CEO of the Association of Magazine Media (MPA), Brooks has deep and immediate access into the world of magazine media brands and their readers. And she can’t figure this out.

“Maybe somewhere there is a study on human nature that explains why people have a tendency to pick the latest fad over the tried and true,” Brooks writes in an opinion piece in Magazines Canada. “I, however, have always had a preference for choosing the option with the greatest likelihood of success.”

In fact, studies on human nature show quite the opposite when it comes to reading in print. 

“Scientists concluded through eye tracking, comprehension testing and FMRI machines that subjects had less distraction when reading on paper,” she notes. “Paper-based reading also has impact due to the additional sensory involvement—the feel of the pages, the smell of the paper and the sound of turning the sheet.

“When subjects were tested while reading paper-based formats, they had higher comprehension and recall,” Brooks continues. “They spend more time with printed pieces and at slower reading speeds, which stimulates emotions and desires. That emotional impact is very important to advertisers because a lot of advertising leans on emotional triggers.” 

Not only does this mean your print reader is more engaged; it means magazine ad spend has the highest return of all channels – even if your audience is spending more time on social. That does not mean they are more engaged there, nor is it more effective. In fact, with slumping consumer confidence on social media, your readers are less likely than ever to trust digital ads.

Nielsen Catalina did a roll up of over 1,400 client studies that they had conducted over a year,” Brooks explains. “They looked at their key metric, Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), which measures what you get back for every dollar you put in the marketplace. Magazines delivered a $3.94 return on every $1. The next highest, digital display, trails by more than $1.30 at $2.63.”

“People enjoy print; better yet, consumers are adding other magazine media platforms while still enjoying that tangible copy. If audiences are engaged across platforms, why aren’t marketers?” Brooks asks.

Beats me.