Where Magazines Really Fit in the Consumer Funnel

Do magazines operate primarily at the top of the funnel?

For more advertisers, the answer is a definite no. And now the industry is starting to do a better job of explaining that.

“The greatest misconception is that we’re not seen as an active participant in the marketing funnel; that we don’t go beyond the role of brand positioning and awareness where, in fact, we drive brand consideration, purchase, and lead people in-store,” says Nick Smith, prestige and lifestyle director at News Corp, in this Magazine Networks post in Mumbrella.

He notes that magazine brands have, in effect, become ecosystems. “In print, we can go deep through editorial or advertorial. On the other hand, the immediacy of social and digital really allows us to be reactive and responsive.”

And advertisers are increasingly looking for this kind of multi-channel exposure, explains Fiorella DiSanto, GM of publishing at Bauer Media.

“The days of, ‘Here’s a magazine brief’ or ‘We just want to buy a magazine schedule’ are over,” DiSanto explains. “Invariably, more and more now, agencies come to us with a client problem. They need to drive trial, they need to improve advocacy. For us, it starts with a client strategy and then we think about the brands and the channels that are going to best resolve the issue. It’s much more interesting now.”

While print magazines in this cycle have traditionally been looked to for awareness and discovery, recent studies prove their role extends far beyond this.

“Magazines sit at the top of the funnel for awareness, absolutely, but we’ve used them a little bit differently,” explains Jo King, head of brand, marketing and customer experience for Victorian Racing Club (VRC). “Awareness in the first instance, but then as a continued and extended go-to resource along the customer lifecycle. It’s a resource that you go back to time and time again,” she said.

Indeed a 2016 survey by Magazine Networks bears this out. In that research, 65% of magazine readers say they’ve been influenced by recommended or featured products, while 59% admit to being influenced by magazine ads.

As the industry embraces this idea, they are becoming increasingly vocal about sharing the news. For example, King notes that VRC had “forgotten” about the power of magazines until partnering with a number of big media brands to help promote their Melbourne Cup Festival.

“A billboard is never going to do it. You can never have multiple messages, multiple moments or multiple intersections in a TVC,” she says. “A trusted masthead with a really strong print and digital platform is absolutely right for us and a very good partner.”

We continue to see more evidence that magazine media brands are acknowledging their rightful place in the funnel, not just for awareness but for driving intent and purchase decisions. As brands look for viable ad partners, print is looking more than up to the task.