Are magazine circulations still in decline and how does this affect advertisers?

August 28th, 2013 by Simon Bollon

The recent ABC provided some horror stories for magazine circulations but before we all jump on the ‘print media is dead’ band wagon it is worth highlighting some success stories and putting these declines into perspective.

The two sectors that have suffered the biggest losses are the women’s gossip titles and the Lads Mags market both of which have seen double digit declines across many titles.

In the Women’s sector Reveal is a stand out casualty with a decline in circulation of over 20% while in the Lad Mag market Nuts haemorrhaged over 30% of its circulation.

However, its not all doom and gloom and certain sectors saw growth or stability (a good thing for print media!). In the free market Shortlist and its sister title Stylist retained their circulation posting very modest growth of around 1% with circulation standing at 534,000 and 435,000 respectively.

Elsewhere, the Week (my personal favourite success story of recent years) posted further growth with an increase of 3% whilst rivals the Economist and Private Eye held relatively steady.

It’s very easy to dismiss print titles from media schedules and argue they are a dying format with decreasing circulations but in reality we’re still talking about big numbers across most sectors. Clearly, the titles have lost readers to digital options and producing engaging and compelling content that can be offered both digitally and in print is key to stability and/or growth. Media buyers and planners are moving away from looking at print titles as stand alone propositions and instead considering a cross platform deals with publishers – and that’s to everyone’s benefit.

The failure of some and success of others seems to suggest that engagement is still the critical factor in retaining magazine circulations. Engaging and compelling content is still sought after and whilst this content is available in print media sales will survive. Truly integrated commercial propositions working to a clients remit will see publishers thrive.