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Guest Column : Magazines—The Medium of Action in a Slow-Moving Economy

Research indicates magazines provide marketers better ROI than other media.

May 2009 By Ellen Oppenheim
If you were a marketer today and your bottom line depended on moving people to action, which media would you select for your advertising plan? The good news for magazines is research shows that magazines are the “medium of action.” 

Out With the “Old Thinking”
Today’s challenging times have exacerbated the need for marketers to show that they can generate results quickly. If they fail, they—and their brands—will likely not survive. It’s common knowledge that the spate of recent marketing budget cuts has put enormous pressure on clients and their agencies to determine which media should stay in a plan and which should get cut. What’s not so obvious is the impact of marketers who make allocation (or reallocation) decisions using the principles of “old thinking,” reach-based planning compared to that of state-of-the-art thinkers who employ the principles of “effectiveness planning.”

Why should magazine publishers care? Because when effectiveness-planning thinking prevails, so do magazines.

Look at the differences: Reach-based marketers concentrate on reaching the maximum number of people as possible with their ads, based on a medium’s audience, at the lowest cost. Their conversations about efficiency focus on cost per thousand without regard to whether those audiences are affected by the advertising.

Effectiveness-based planning looks at how advertising in the medium drives outcomes, based on the marketers’ objectives and the costs to achieve them. Here, the notion of efficiency is based on cost per impact—i.e., the cost to get one person to act in response to the advertising.

Consider this: Effectiveness-based marketers increasingly look beyond awareness as a marketing goal. They seek to encourage people to buy their products or services by building purchase intent and doing it at the lowest cost.

Magazines Drive Outcomes
When leading accountability researcher Marketing Evolution looked at the cost for marketers to drive brand awareness, it found that magazines play well in the sandbox. TV drives awareness most efficiently, and magazines contribute as well. On average, it cost 98 cents for TV and $1.08 for magazines for every person whose “awareness of a brand increased”—roughly a 10-percent difference. (Note: Online contributes to awareness, too, but at a more distant $1.97.)

If awareness is the marketing objective, marketers would be well-served to have TV as the lynchpin of their plans and to have magazines play an important supporting role.

 

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