The mindset has shifted from “buy something” to “do something”…and free titles fit that niche perfectly.
It’s seems the old adage of “you get what you pay for” doesn’t apply in one area of our industry. The rise of the free magazine, distributed in public places like subway stops and train stations, has been fueled by surprisingly good content that readers what to engage with.
One industry insider who’s sold on the idea is Ed Needham, editor of Coach magazine in the UK. He believes, according to Ashley Norris in FIPP, that great editorial content is the real draw in a successful free magazine.
“In terms of editorial opportunities, they are as plentiful as always, and especially with the demise of the paid-for men’s market, advertisers are eager to explore new ways to connect with large numbers of men, as they are not exactly spoilt for choice,” Needham said to Norris.
“Coach stands out for a number of reasons – outstanding design, an engaging tone, genuine usefulness for people who want to do something active to change their lives, and being utterly of the moment, as people are growing weary of surrounding themselves with stuff and want experiences. ‘Buy something’ is getting stale – ‘Do something’ is what people are looking for,” Neeham continued.
Advertisers love the idea too, thanks to the magazine’s popularity, with “very few copies left on the tube,” Needham continues. “You’re lucky to find a second-hand one. People take it home with them.”
The idea makes sense; take a (literally) captive audience and give them something beautiful, engaging and free to read at a time when they have 10, 15 or 30 minutes to really sink into it. It’s that kind of engagement that makes absolutely perfect sense to the advertisers, and publishers are paying notice.
“Ultimately 2016 could be a watershed year for the freebies,” Norris predicts. “There are likely to be other launches, and it will be interesting to see how these affect both the established brands like Shortlist as well as the newbies like Coach and the NME.”
For advertisers, you do get what you pay for in interested and engaged readers. That makes free look like a pretty good bet.