Mr. Magazine – “Go towards the light,” Todd Krizelman advised, echoing an earlier speaker at Mr. Magazine’s™ ACT 7 held at the University of Mississippi this week. Krizelman, the CEO of MEDIARadar, was present to review where print advertising stands in the US. “Opportunity is still there,” Krizelman said, “publishers need to study the benchmarks and look to where they might take advantage of it.”
Sure, print is down, print ads are down, but not across the board. For magazines, there are five distinct verticals—national consumer, B2B, regional, science, and enthusiast—and each have their own benchmarks, their own challenges, and their own opportunities. “For me, it’s misinformed when the press reports print is down,” Krizelman told the group of publishers and students gathered at the Meek School of Journalism. “All media is not the same. Each vertical is going through its own experience right now. Each B2B category has its own ecosystem of advertisers, and the five main verticals have different benchmarks.” The regional and enthusiast verticals are still showing strength, Krizelman continued; and although there’s been a four-year decline in ad pages across the board of 15%, almost half a million were purchased in consumer titles alone in 2017.
With more money available for advertising than ever before, these are the good days; but with media companies from the tech center competing for those dollars, snagging those bucks becomes a highly competitive endeavor. “My six year old doesn’t even understand the difference between TV and iPad,” Krizelman said. “Today YouTube is bigger than all of NBC plus 22 cable channels together, yet media companies till recently have not seen them as a competitor.”
But it’s important to understand that declines are not evenly distributed. Although the ad sales market is down in a lot of places, there are still areas in which it is level or up. Nationally, pharmaceutical, for example, isn’t down so much, while there’s been a big loss in apparel and accessories. And the publishers that are still making the most money are steering their businesses towards the light. In the food category, for instance, there is a lot of editorial competition, but last year there were almost 600 new advertisers and 256 existing advertisers increased their spend, giving new titles such as Hoffman’s Bake from Scratch the opportunity to thrive.
B2B: has remained much more stable over the last few years, with ad pages down a comparatively small (and unequally distributed) 6%. And in the regional vertical, a quarter million ad pages were placed last year. Regional titles are thriving in the regions where the economies are strong, and the largest advertisers for this vertical are retailers. IRetail is going down everywhere, which creates the challenge: retail advertising pages declined 25% in just one year. But ads for restaurants and bars are going up, real estate is up, and, region to region, we’re seeing the same story everywhere.
Krizelman’s advice to publishers is to study the number of new advertisers in the market each year, find out who and where they are, and go for them. There is more new business to be had than people realize. In Texas alone, 7000 new advertisers came on the scene. Learn the benchmarks, target those new opportunities, and strive to be as good as the benchmark.
“Know the key vitality metrics for your segment,” Krizelman advised. “What threatens your business? What are the opportunities to increase sales? Not all management is created equally—be the best in print. Study what others are doing that works. Innovate but also learn from others. Watch what they are doing and build on it.
“I view print with a lot of eager hope,” Krizelman finished. “I reject the idea that print is not fresh and innovative. If the product is created well, it creates user engagement, which makes advertisers want to be part of the magazine.”
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