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Response to the ABCs results: How are mag subscriptions and sales faring in the recession?

August 17th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Magazines

Subscription sales are up according to figures from online magazine retailer The Magazine Group, which runs sites for WH Smith, Books Direct and others; while last week the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) reported only a slight drop in overall magazine sales.

But individual titles have seen circulations plummet this. Do subscriptions offer a way to avoid such a loss in sales? Here, we examine the results of the two reports:

Last week’s report from The Magazine Group suggests subscription sales are on the up after analysing figures for the more than 800 titles from 140 publishers it offers. The findings are derived from more than 100,000 subscriptions sold by the group – comparing purchasing patterns from the first half of 2008 with those for the same period this year.

Meanwhile overall ABC results for January to June 2009 suggested that magazine circulation for the UK consumer magazine market is only 1.9 per cent down on the previous period.

But individual titles fared worse in last weeks ABCs: results suggested that most glossy magazines have lost sales (one of the worst hit has been FHM down 16.2 per cent). There are exceptions – such Men’s Health (up 2.1 per cent YOY), which has taken FHM’s place as top selling title.

According to the Magazine Group’s report, women’s glossies are also suffering with the biggest fall in subscriptions amongst the retailer’s titles. The ABC results show that overall sales for women’s weeklies are down 4.6 per cent year-on-year.

In contrast celebrity weeklies are doing well in subscriptions for the Magazine Group, which claimed that magazines with competitive prices were faring the best.

The public’s concerns and interest in the recession are reflected in the ABC report by the general increase in sales for news and business magazines compared with other sectors –  MoneyWeek (which has subscribers making up 96 per cent of readers, according to MediaGuardian) was up 15.3 per cent year-on-year, while the Week gained 10.3 per cent in sales.

Up 0.6 per cent year-on-year, Private Eye remains the biggest-selling title in the news and finance business sector.

According to The Magazine Group, TV, computer games and music magazines are also doing well – it seems that more people are trying to save money by staying in.

Speaking at the FIPP congress earlier this year, leading magazine publishers suggested that personalisation may be a key factor for future magazine revenue streams. This sentiment is reflected in the Magazine Group’s report, as specialist magazines are shown to be doing well. The figures suggested an increase of more than 20 per cent in the sales of home improvement, craft and gardening titles.

But, it may simply come down to money-saving to explain the drop in glossies, but rise in such specialist titles. Economising Brits seem to be fighting the recession by trying to make their money go further. Not surprisingly, the ABC report suggests that specialist titles such as house renovation and housing have fallen in circulation, as have health and beauty magazines.

“What these figures (The Magazine Group) show is that magazine consumers are looking for value. Titles that offer ways to combat the credit crunch are thriving,” says Don Brown of The Magazine Group in a release.

“With sales falling on the newsstand many magazines are having a tough time, but with big name brands offering discounts and free gifts, savvy subscribers have great choice of bargains.”

The magazine Group claims to generally have a rise in their subscriptions, compared to many falls in the ABC analysis on individual title’s sales. Does this suggest that subscription deals might be able to save/maintain some magazines?

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Peter Preston: Advertisers needs transparency in metrics to move online

August 17th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Editors' pick, Traffic

“[P]art of the answer to not enough advertising revenue lies in serving the advertiser better,” writes Preston, referencing last week’s results of an inquiry into reporting of newspaper bulks as a step towards greater transparency of circulation figures.

But there isn’t an international standard for web traffic measurement to news sites and the difference between current methodologies (e.g. those of Nielsen in the US and the Audit Bureau of Circulations in the UK) could leave advertisers feeling lost, he says.

“It ought to be simple. The information is there online. But if you can’t extricate it, how do you expect more than a few categories of internet advertising to break through to good prices in great quantity?”

Full post at this link…

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FT.com: Birmingham Post ‘might cease daily publication’

July 13th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

At the weekend the FT reported that Birmingham Post might cease daily publication after 152 years, ‘becoming the first flagship newspaper of a large city to go weekly in response to the recession and competition from online media.’

“The circulation of the Birmingham Post has dropped from 18,500 to 12,700 since 2000, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Locally, a fully paid circulation of less than 7,000 is spoken of. It is understood that options studied by Trinity Mirror, which owns the white-collar morning title, include converting the lossmaking publication into a weekly title. The media group might publish the Birmingham Mail, an evening newspaper with a blue-collar readership, in the mornings instead. This would trigger wide-ranging redundancies, from delivery drivers to newsagents and journalists in a newsroom that services several titles.”

Full story at this link…

Yesterday, the Press Gazette’s Grey Cardigan said his sources back the report:

“I knew that sales were poor, but I didn’t realise that paid-for copies had dropped to fewer than 7,000 – a claim made by the FT and stood up by my own sources this morning. (Just what you want on the golf course early on a Sunday – a call from Mr Cardigan suggesting that you’re about to lose your job.”

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magCulture.com: ABC should support more mag innovation

June 9th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Magazines

In an anniversary post from last week marking his 1,001st blog post, Jeremy Leslie discusses what makes a magazine a magazine.

Leslie’s post raises a serious issue – the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) definition of a magazine. Last week the bureau rejected a membership application from title MK Bruce Lee.

As Chris Roper points out on News24:

“If you’re not allowed to call yourself a magazine, you don’t get audited. And if you don’t get audited and have an official circulation, it’s tricky to sell ads in a magazine. You don’t sell ads, you go bust.”

“Whether mainstream or independent, consumer, B2B or customer, old or new, industry bodies like ABC should be supporting innovative publications. And if we’re supporting innovation in content and presentation, why not format too?” writes Leslie.

Full post at this link…

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HuffingtonPost: Brazil’s ‘booming’ newspaper industry

December 10th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

A look at the increase in newspaper sales in Brazil. Huffingtonpost.com reports that Brazilians bought 24 per cent more newspapers in the first three quarters of 2008 than they did in 2006, according to the Instituto Verificador de Circulacao, the Brazilian equivalent of the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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WSJ.com: Major US newspaper circulations continue to fall

October 27th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

According to industry estimates of data that the Audit Bureau of Circulations is releasing today, most of the large US newspapers saw a drop in print circulation in the six months through to September.

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Independent.co.uk: Gossip sites put heat on celeb mags in latest ABCs

August 15th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Magazines, Traffic

Sales of celebrity magazines have plunged in the latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations – a result of the economic downturn and the rising popularity of online competitors.

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