Where’s All the Magazine Advertising?

We work with quite a few associations and one of the first things we bring to the table is some sort of increase in royalty payments or an increase in sales targets by a large margin. At first glance, most of our new clients think we’re completely unrealistic in these expectations – until something incredible happens.

We achieve them.

So what gives? After all, we all know that print advertising has been steadily declining over the past decade with the increase in digital spending. From an advertising perspective, digital budgets are now larger than print, radio and even television. The reason for the increase in digital advertising is that metrics are much easier to calculate and ROI is often able to be pulled right from metrics like click-through rates.

This creates a cost per result for the advertiser that they can use to predict future sales.

For example, if a company was selling T-shirts, and they spent $100 on 5,000 impressions on a Facebook ad, they might expect roughly 25 clicks to their website. In other words, a click-through rate (CTR) of 0.5 percent. Now, if they can convert 50 percent of traffic on their website, then they should expect those 25 clicks to translate into 12.5 T-shirts being sold.

These are wildly optimistic numbers and almost never happen, but it illustrates the point that if $100 is spent on Facebook advertising then they should acquire 12-13 customers at, say, $10 each. Because of this, this company now has a very clear idea that their ROI will be $120-$130 for that $100.

Now, we’ve bought and sold digital ads, and having previously worked in a marketing agency setting, we definitely agree that there is a strong need for these metric-driven approaches.

The main problem here is that media partners have a tendency to become complacent in the projects they produce after seeing success in the past. These media producers actually need to be extremely creative and competitive in their print offerings in order to continue to meet sales targets that impress their association partners. This is something that hasn’t been accomplished well over the past decade. As the media consumption habits of your association’s members continue to change, it’s essential that media producers stay on top of these trends and produce quality work that engages both readers and advertisers.

I’m going to sound like a broken record, but because advertising budgets are now spread over more mediums, it’s imperative to be innovative and creative with your publications. Leverage things like anniversary editions and innovative ad solutions that make the advertiser stand out in unusual ways to continue to grow the advertiser base in your publications.

Innovative ad solutions like belly bands, gate folds, barn doors and UV-coated center spreads all have a dramatic effect on the amount of investment that will go into your publication. Furthermore, surprising things happen when you suggest these options to advertisers.

For example, if xyz company chose to run a barn doors advertisement, then chances are pretty high that every one of xyz’s competitors is going to want a larger focus within the magazine’s pages if they can’t book the barn doors position for themselves. Other advertisers that maybe aren’t competitors will notice these positions as well and realize that your publication is seeing significant investment in advertising dollars and equate that to your audience being of higher value. The rest of your advertisers will think that if xyz company is spending a certain amount, then the audience must be worth more than the amount they’re spending. Otherwise, they’d have no hope in turning an ROI on the expensive premium positioning.

The best-case scenario and the ultimate result of these innovations is that you’ll have a waiting list for your top premium positions and everyone on the waiting list is running impressive advertising campaigns within the publications until they can secure those premium positions.

As you can see, by leveraging just one of the innovative solutions listed above you can dramatically increase advertiser support and participation within your publications. Ultimately, this should lead to higher royalties coming back to your association. At the end of the day, if your royalties haven’t been increasing steadily over the lifespan of your publications, it’s time to seriously examine where the breakdown is taking place.