Magazine Advertising

Magazines published in the latter half of the nineteenth century were targeted towards special interest audiences and carried very little advertising. Most magazines of this time were either literary, or religious in content. Before the advent of radio, magazines were an important advertising medium for many businesses.

Magazine Advertising

Magazines are considered as the most specialized of all the advertising media. The magazine industry has often been described as “survival of the discriminating.” The number of magazines has increased steadily to serve the educational, informational, entertainment and other specialized needs of consumers, business and industry.

Availability of a wide variety of magazines makes them quite an appealing medium to a very large number of advertisers. Magazine advertising is equally popular among large and small companies. Their high interest readers are usually willing to pay a premium for the magazines.

As pointed out earlier, the role of magazines is different in the media plan of an advertiser. Magazines allow the presentation of detailed ad messages along with beautiful reproduction of photographs, graphics and colors. Magazines are comparatively a more high-involvement form of print medium than newspapers, as they are read in a leisurely manner and are not dumped or thrown after reading as happens in case of newspapers.

Magazines can be classified in various ways but the most important classification can be in terms of their editorial appeal or the type of readership they attract.

  • Consumer Magazines: These magazines are bought and read by general public for entertainment or information. Consumer magazines represent the major part of the magazine industry and attract the largest share of total money spent in magazine advertising. This group of magazines is particularly suited to advertisers who want to reach general consumers of products and services and are also very suitable to reach specific target audiences. The most frequently advertised product categories include cosmetics and toiletries, laundry products, dress materials, fashion garments, consumer durable goods, and business and consumer services. Advertising scene in consumer magazines is dominated mostly by large national advertisers but they are also important to smaller firms dealing in specialized products and services such as mosquito repellents, handmade paper, specialized protective lighting equipment for computer users, slimming and beauty care services, etc. Special interest magazines target groups of audience with similar interest or lifestyle and attract advertisers who desire to reach them efficiently with little waste circulation.  The editorial content of such specialized magazines is very appropriate in creating a suitable advertising environment for related products and services.
  • Business Publications:Business magazines include publications such as trade journals meant for specific businesses, industries, or occupations. They are different from consumer publications and are distinguished by the editorial focus. The readership is mainly composed of business managers and executives, businessmen and business schools, etc.  These publications are focused on professional people within a particular field of interest and provide relevant information about occupation, careers, or industry. They are important to advertisers in reaching a precisely defined target market such as decision makers in business and industry or industrial buyers.

Advantages of Magazine Advertising

Some characteristics are peculiar to magazines and make them very attractive to advertisers as a medium. The advantages of magazine advertising include their selectivity, excellent reproduction quality, creative flexibility, permanence, prestige, high involvement of readers and services they offer to advertisers.

  • Selectivity: A major advantage of magazines as a medium is the selectivity or their ability to reach specific target audience. Except for direct mail and Internet, magazines are considered as the most selective of all media. Usually magazines are published for audiences with special interests. Other than interest-based selectivity, magazines offer demographic selectivity and can reach specific target segments because of their editorial content and focus on well defined demographic characteristics. National or regional advertisers can use maximum selectivity in reaching markets of their choice through appropriate selection of magazines. National advertisers can use regional language editions to test-market products or alternative advertising campaigns in various regional markets.
  • Reproduction Quality: From the advertisers’ point of view, a highly desirable and valued attribute of magazines is the reproduction quality of advertisements. Magazines are generally printed on high quality paper. The printing processes used are modern and provide equally superior reproduction both in color and black and white. This is quite an important feature for a visual medium like magazines because photographs and illustrations are often a dominating part in ads. The reproduction quality in almost all respectable magazines is far too superior compared to what is offered by newspapers, particularly in color. Special newspaper supplements are an exception, which are produced on superior glossy paper. Use of color in ads is particularly important for advertisers when a product’s visual elements are important in creating an impact.
  • Creative Flexibility: Advertisers can take advantage of a great deal of flexibility in terms of the type, size and placement of advertising material in magazines. There are options of special facilities that help advertisers in making the ad more noticeable and readable such as gate-folds, bleed pages and inserts. Multiple-page advertising in magazines takes many forms. The most common advertising of this form uses two page or three page spread and inserts. A spread increases impact. of the message and removes any competition to reader’s attention. Gate-folds is a form of multiple-page insertion and uses a third page that folds out and gives the ad extra large spread. It is used by advertisers to make a striking presentation and are often found at the inside cover of magazines, or on inside pages. Gate-folds are expensive and must be booked well in advance. Only a limited number of magazines offer the facility of gate-folds as they can add to the bulk of the magazine. In case of bleed pages, the ad extends all the way to the edge of the page without leaving any margin of white space surrounding the ad. Bleed creates an impression about the ad that it is large and produces a dramatic effect. Most magazines charge some extra percentage for bleeds. Other than gate-folds and bleed, creative options through magazines include unusual page sizes and shapes. Occasionally one comes across unique ads that jump off the magazine pages. These are complex three-dimensional pop-up ads that attract reader’s immediate attention. Inserts of different types include return cards, booklets, CD’s, coupons, etc. Taking a cue from magazine advertisers of developed countries, probably the time is not far when magazine advertisements might occasionally include samples of certain products such as fragrances, or deodorants whose scent is important. All these techniques in magazine advertising are attempts to break through the advertising clutter and grab the attention of readers.
  • Permanence: As mentioned earlier, a limitation of newspapers is that they are generally dumped or thrown after being read. Similarly, TV and radio ads typically deliver fleeting messages that have a very short life span, only magazines are an exception in this regard. People generally read magazines over several days and retain them at home for reference longer than any other medium. Many readers refer to magazines on several occasions and can be exposed to ads on multiple occasions. Magazines are often read by more family members than one and are also passed on to friends and acquaintances. Magazine reading is less hurried and offers an opportunity to examine any ad more thoroughly. For ads of expensive, complex, risky, or ego-intensive products or services, which are categorized as high-involvement informational or transformational, advertising can use long and detailed copy to communicate effectively with consumers.
  • Prestige: Some magazines enjoy a very credible and qualitative image among audiences and the product or service advertised in them may gain prestige in consumers perception. Quite a good number of products and services rely heavily on perceived quality, image and reputation, and for this reason they are advertised in publications that are considered credible and prestigious. High quality editorial content of magazines is recognized as an important element in creating a favorable environment. Reader opinion surveys furnish objective data in this regard but the image and prestige of a magazine largely depends on subjective estimates of media planners based on their experience. The ultimate evaluation of magazines is whether they can deliver the right audience, at the right cost, and in the right environment.
  • Reader Involvement: Readers generally purchase magazines for their information value. The ads furnish additional information about products and services that may prove to be valuable in making purchase decision. The more highly educated a reader, the more thorough is the reading of a magazine. Reader involvement is related to the credibility and content relationship readers develop with their preferred magazines. Unlike ads in broadcast media, magazine ads are non­ intrusive and the reader can always ignore any of them without effort. Magazines are considered as a more reliable source of information and consumers read ads with interest.
  • Services: Some magazines offer an important service facility of split runs in which two or more versions of an ad are printed in alternate copies of a magazine’s particular issue. This is very helpful to advertisers who want to pre-test the comparative ability and effectiveness of two ads in generating the desired response.

Disadvantages of Magazine Advertising

As an advertising medium, magazines offer many valuable advantages to advertisers. However, there are also problems that must be considered by media planners. These problems include high costs of advertising, their limited reach and frequency, long lead time for placing the ads and the problem of increasingly heavy advertising competition and clutter.

  • High Costs: Magazines are among the most expensive media on CPM basis and in a valued mass circulation magazine, advertising can be quite expensive. Many advertisers use quality magazines as niche supplement in their media schedule. The cost of ad space in magazines varies according to the size of audience they reach and the degree of selectivity. Advertisers with limited budgets may be interested in the absolute costs of ad space and costs of producing quality advertisements for such publications.
  • Limited Reach and Frequency: Magazines published in English have their reach in all the regions. Regional language magazines have large circulation but their readership is confined to certain regions only. To reach a broad market area, media planners must make media buys in a number of magazines.

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