Magazines Circulation Down But Not Out


Aug 28, 2013 - by Jay Drummond
Magazines Circulation Down But Not Out

Magazines still matter

Print has been labeled a dying medium. Newspapers seem to be closing down daily and look what happened to my Dad’s favorite magazine—after 79 years, Newsweek is no longer even in print.

Taking a closer look at the magazine industry, dark clouds can be seen gathering. Given the release of the latest magazine circulation information, the news doesn't appear to be much brighter.

Are Magazines Still a Viable Medium?
According to Alliance for Audited Media, magazine circulation for the 401 measured publications continues to trend down about 1 percent for the first six months of 2013. More disconcerting may be the 10 percent dip in newsstand sales. This has historically been the marker for the health of a publication. When a reader pays cash for a single copy it's generally seen as more reflective of a person's interest in a publication. Of course the economy has something to do with it too.

The weekly celebrity magazines and women’s titles were the hardest hit. Vogue and Vanity Fair were both down double digits at the newsstand. Harder hit were Glamour down 28.8 percent, O Magazine down 22.7 percent and Cosmopolitan down 33 percent.

With a lack of a big event to promote and competition from online rivals, some of the biggest losers were People Magazine (dropped 11.8 percent), US Weekly (16.7 percent) and Life & Style Weekly (down 20.9 percent).
Magazines Still Matter
While there has been a decline in circulation in some publications, a lot of people still read magazines. Here is the latest per issue circulation for the top magazines.

  • 21,931,184 AARP The Magazine
  • 7,829,184 Game Informer Magazine
  • 7,624,505 Better Homes & Gardens
  • 5,241,484 Readers Digest
  • 4,396,795 Good Housekeeping
  • 4,014,481 Family Circle
  • 4,001,987 National Geographic
  • 3,542,185 People

Some magazines even saw circulation increases in the past six months. The big winners were HGTV Magazine up 54.4 percent, Cosmopolitan en Espanol up 33.1 percent, American Rifleman up 14.0 percent and Garden & Gun Magazine up 13.2 percent.

Even though the percent is small (3.3 percent of total subscriptions) a loyal base of magazine users are turning to the digital version of the print magazine. The base is small but it’s growing steadily.
Demise Overstated
So the death of the magazine is substantially overstated. Here are a few reasons why magazines continue to find their way into media plans.

  • Magazines score higher than TV and the Internet on ad receptivity and consumer trusting of the message.
  • More than 60 percent of magazine readers take action as a result of an ad.
  • Studies show that 43 percent of magazine readers make online purchases versus 21 percent of non-magazine readers.
  • The average magazine reader spends 41 minutes with each issue.
  • 47% of people trust magazine advertising while only 28% trust online banner ads

Magazine’s golden age was in the 90’s and it has become a tough sell in this ever-emerging digital age. However, lets not bury magazines just yet. People still read them, it’s a great environment to showcase great creative and if you're trying to reach an affluent audience magazines might just be your ticket.

The magazine is still very much alive and let’s admit it people, everyone reads People. With a 12 time pass along rate (every copy of an issue is read by an average of 12 people), you can’t get away from the Kardashians even if you tried.

In a communications world that’s growing less tangible, I unabashedly submit a write-in vote for the magazine. Keep Calm and Read On.


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