Selling Magazines Is “Still The Hardest Way To Sell Content”: Bauer CEO Nick Chan

Selling Magazines Is “Still The Hardest Way To Sell Content”: Bauer CEO Nick Chan

The Audited Media Association of Australia survey ending June 2016 have unveiled the stark truth of the magazine world, and despite some sharp drops in circulation figures, those at the helm of the publishing houses remain optimistic about the future of their print products.

Hannah Edensor
Posted by Hannah Edensor

Bauer Media’s Cosmopolitan saw the biggest decline in sales over the past year, recording a 42.1 per cent plummet to circulation of just over 45,000, with other young female title Dolly also falling by 26 per cent.

Asked about the rapid drop of Cosmo‘s circulation, Bauer Media CEO Nick Chan said, “What’s clearly happening in that marketplace is it’s not resonating as much as it should, and we need to find and refine the magazine so that content is far more compelling than it is today”.

Overall, it was Australian Women’s Weekly that held onto the biggest circulation stats, dropping almost 10 per cent to 381,522. Better Homes & Gardens followed in close second, dipping a mere 0.1 per cent to sit at circulation of 314,988.

Breaking it down into categories, women’s and celebrity magazines were hit the hardest, and Chan said online content has not helped the print category.

Regarding the celebrity titles, Chan said, “We’re seeing exclusive content being ‘stolen’ quite quickly then put online, so it’s very difficult to keep an exclusivity as we used to on our celebrity titles,” he said. “I think with the consumption of that type of content, there’s parts of it drifting online but there’s still a healthy appetite for it in print and we just have to find a different way to execute.”

Overall, Chan admitted it’s been a challenging time for magazines, saying, “Overall, it’s a continuation of a decline, and people are consuming their news and information in very different ways now.

“The mobile phone is taking up a lot of people’s time, and media as such is being dispersed amongst that time. We are seeing across all traditional media lower levels of audience. And we’re not immune to that.

As the gold standard of content, we have the most challenging role in terms of media. Selling content in the manner that we’re doing is still the hardest way to sell content, in the framework of having a lot of free content in the marketplace.

“There is an unstoppable advance in the ways people are consuming their media. The mobile phone is much more prevalent and we have to adapt to how the consumers want to take in their content. What we still have, and why our future is very strong, is because we have the ability to connect with our consumers via content. That’s what we’ve always done.

“Magazines are still a $700 million content business every year, and that’s not something that a lot of content providers are able to generate.”

Pacific Magazines CEO Peter Zavecz told B&T that while the headlines were likely to claim magazine circulation is on the decline, there are positives to the results.

“It’s a very challenged market but we’re delighted we’ve been able to increase our share. Yes, the market is challenged, and we’ve not lost any focus in ensuring our print products are the best they can be in terms of delivering value, but we’re also aware our advertising partners want to engage with our readers across all platforms.

“Magazine engagement levels are higher than virtually every other category in social, and the audience footprint is growing exponentially. This is something we as an industry have got to be very clear about, and we have to take it away from just one metric, which to be honest is not as meaningful as it used to be because audiences of brands are multi-platform now.

It’s really up to the magazine industry now to continue to drive the total audience metrics, because it’s a multi-dimensional sell now. We don’t exist to print a magazine, we exist to engage deeply with audiences who are passionate about special interests.

NewsLifeMedia’s CEO Nicole Sheffield said, “While we experienced some ups and downs in the audit our circulation results overall are stable. Our home titles continue to increase with Vogue Living and Country Style achieving the largest rate of growth year-on-year in the homes category; our share of the food category has increased to 73.1 per cent with the top four food titles in the country; and Vogue Australia continues to grow in the fashion category.

“We’re content creators in a market where the delivery of content has no boundaries. Our brands offer compelling content, deep engagement and overall trust, and through this we will continue to deliver results that move consumers from connection to engagement.”

For further detail, check out the various categories in-depth here:

Women’s Magazines

Pacific Magazinesmarie claire fell 10.3 per cent to 73,346; Girlfriend fell 17.3 per cent to 31,043, Women’s Health dropped 19.6 per cent to 57,541; InStyle declined just 3.8 per cent to 45,390.

Bauer MediaCosmo dropped 42.1 per cent to 45,309; dolly dropped 26 per cent to 30,010; Woman’s Day dipped 12.4 per cent to  265,228; Australian Women’s Weekly fell 9.8 per cent to  381,522; Elle Australia dropped 7.8 per cent to 55,952; Harper’s Bazaar increased by 0.8 per cent to  52,661.

NewsLifeMediaVogue Australia rose 0.1 per cent to 53,554

Celebrity Magazines

Pacific MagazinesWho dipped 18.5 per cent to 82,985; New Idea fell 14.5 per cent to 222,229.

Bauer MediaOK! dropped 21.5 per cent to 48,181; NW fell 18.7 per cent to 53,496

Homemaker Magazines

Pacific MagazinesAustralian Home Beautiful dropped 7.3 per cent to 83,445; Better Homes & Gardens declined just 0.1 per cent to 314,988; Your Garden held strong with 0.1 per cent loss to 39,860.

Bauer MediaRecipes+ fell 27.5 per cent to 66,512; Homes+ dropped 20.2 per cent to 40,235; Australian House & Garden declined a small 7.8 per cent to 96,009; Australian Gourmet Traveller went to 5.1 per cent to 62,394; Belle dropped just 1.8 per cent to 41,287.

NewsLifeMediaDonna Hay fell 11.4 per cent to 83,277; Taste.com.au Magazine dipped 5.3 per cent to 77,342; Delicious declined 1.3 per cent to 93,487; Country Style grew 0.5 per cent to 63,164; Vogue Living went up 0.6 per cent to 42,986.

Men’s Magazines

Pacific MagazinesMen’s Health dropped 13 per cent to 45,407.