Study: Magazines need digital strategy to weather online competition

Jan. 16, 2014 at 7:33 PM
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TORONTO, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Magazines competing in a digital era can use targeted audiences and websites to weather the onslaught of online competition, a Canadian researcher says.

While all print media are suffering at the hands of their online counterparts, print magazines with companion websites are able to attract more advertising dollars, Ambarish Chandra, management professor at the University of Toronto, said.

"Targeting is as important as ever," he said.

In a study of magazines in Germany, Chandra and Ulrich Kaiser of the University of Zurich found that magazines offering targeted advertising both in print and on the web can charge advertisers more.

Magazines create interest around a specific topic, attracting readers with similar interests, and the more homogeneous the magazine's audience the more attractive it is to advertisers looking to target a specific type of consumer, they found.

People who get their information from more than one medium -- what Chandra and Kaiser call "multihomers -- are particularly appealing to advertisers, they said.

"You would think that advertisers would rather go after people who consume media from one source," because they would be easier to find and track, Chandra said.

But it turns out that the "multihomers" are more likely to see a brand's message more than once. "If they can reach you via print and online it's more likely that they can convince you to buy the product," he said.

Magazines with companion websites will have the advantage over those that don't, because they will attract a homogeneous, targeted audience that will also be getting their information through more than one format, Chandra said, and such magazines can therefore charge more for their advertising space.

"It's very clear that circulation of print magazines in all markets has declined because of competition from the Internet," he said. "Magazines have to figure out how to embrace and integrate their print products with digital."

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