iTunes Newsstand iPad model starting to pay off for magazine industry

Sections: Apple Online and Retail Store, iDevice Apps, iPad, iPad Air, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad

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While early days results had been disappointing, it appears Apple’s Newsstand iPad magazine model is finally beginning to bear fruit in the form of revenues for magazine publishers. An analysis conducted by MPA – The Association of Magazine Media—using Kantar Media’s PIB Advance data for magazine ad pages and their tablet edition ad unit database—shows a 6% increase in the magazine media advertising footprint of print pages and tablet units for 2013. The MPA further notes that reports from major publishers and recent research confirm this positive trend.


All of the top 15 (and 44 out of the top 50) highest-grossing lifestyle apps in the iTunes Store are magazine brands according to iTunes/MPA data as of Oct. 15 2013. Six out of the top ten highest grossing news apps in the iTunes Store are magazine brands, six out of the top ten highest grossing fitness apps in the iTunes Store are magazine brands, seven out of the top ten highest grossing food and drink apps in the iTunes Store are magazine brands, and seven out of the top ten highest grossing travel apps in the iTunes Store are magazine brands (iTunes/MPA, data as of Oct. 25 2013).

The MPA reports that for the full year 2013, tablet advertising units increased 16%, with print pages essentially flat at 0.1%. The total footprint of print pages and tablet edition units healthy 6% increase reflects a marked uptick following several years of transition. The data, which analyzed the 69 magazine media titles that measure both print ad page and iPad unit advertising, affirm that 2013 was not only an inflection year for magazine media, it was a successful year, with consumers responding to the industry’s powerful content, when, where and how they chose.

This positive advertising trend was also supported by SMI Dataminer which reports agency spending on print magazines was up 9% through November 2013—more than television (3%), newspapers (3%), radio (2%), and out-of-home (2%).

An earlier report by freelance journalist Jane Sasseen, Katerina-Eva Matsa, and Amy Mitchell of the Pew Research Center noted at the time of publication that 31% of American adults owned a tablet, 45% owned a smartphone, and news publishers were focusing even more on mobile, where they were counting on tablet apps to help convert nonpaying website readers into paying digital subscribers.

The Pew co-authors observed that magazine reading was still a relatively small part of how people use these devices, with some 11% of smartphone owners reading magazines on their phones weekly, as did 22% of tablet owners, according to Pew Research Center data from the fall of 2012. However, news access in general ranked near the top of users’ mobile activity, with 64% getting news on their tablet at least weekly and 62% on their smartphones.

Sasseen, Matsa, and Mitchell observed that even more promising for magazines was the type of reading and news consumption that was occurring, with fully 78% of tablet news users reading in-depth articles at least sometimes on their device. Moreover, most of those consumers (61%), said they read two to three articles in a sitting, while 17% read four or more. A vast majority, 72%, said they often read in-depth articles they did not set out to read, or what is known in the media as serendipity. I know it well. Clicking along is so easy.

They noted that it was still early and remained far from clear if mobile can ultimately provide the revenues needed to revive the industry, but news publishers, hopeful that it will provide a lifeline, had intensified their efforts to develop tablet and smartphone offerings for readers and advertisers alike in 2013. These new metrics from the MPA survey indicate that the strategy is finally paying off.

Commenting on the ever-growing magazine media footprint, Mary G. Berner, MPA-The Association of Magazine Media President and CEO, said, “I put lumps of coal in the stockings of all the nay-sayers who lost their faith in magazine media. These numbers prove, once again, that this business is about powerful, relevant and enduring brands. Despite erroneous, lemming-like coverage of declines, magazine media, has not, in fact, ever had an audience problem, and it is gratifying to see that advertisers are increasingly realizing that.”

Additionally, the latest Fall MRI 2013 release shows print audiences up 1% and magazine media (print plus tablet) up 2% versus the Fall MRI 2012 study, with more than double that growth (5%) among 18-24-year-olds. Tablet edition audiences increased an impressive 49% during the same time period. Circulation data also shows dramatic tablet edition increases, with the AAM reporting 85% growth for digital magazine editions in the first half of 2013 versus the first half of last year.

Magazine Media Notable 2013 Observations:

  • The top 25 print magazines reach 48% more adults than the top 25 prime time television shows.
  • There are currently 7,390 print magazines published in the U.S. today—the most in 10 years.
  • 105 print magazines have been around and thriving for 50 years or more; only nine TV programs can boast the same.
  • Magazines rank as the #1 medium for advertising acceptance (76%); TV ranked 3rd, with 58% of U.S. adults stating TV advertising should not be eliminated.
  • Consumers’ favorite places to look at ads: 45% print magazine, 23% TV show, 11% website.
  • Among social media users who also read magazines:
    • 56% follow a magazine brand on Twitter
    • 51% retweet articles from a magazine’s Twitter feed
    • 49% follow a magazine editor on Twitter
    • 47% post magazine articles to Facebook

The MPA notes that magazine media transcends any one platform. Whether they are consumed in print, tablet, on a smartphone or on the web, magazine media fulfill readers’ desires for timely information and entertainment that appeals to a broad spectrum of personal interests. The enormous impact and the prominent role magazine media play in culture, society and the economy earn them a unique industry-wide selling proposition, to wit:

Magazine media deliver powerful relationships that influence, inspire and endure. The magazine media brand experience is based on trusted editorial, complemented by relevant advertising. This dual immersion in edit and ads satisfies the interests and passions of millions of readers when, where, and how they choose. The reader’s commitment to this unique brand experience results in superior levels of ad receptivity, online search, purchase intent, and extraordinary engagement in and sharing of both edit and ads.

MPA – The Association of Magazine Media is the primary advocate and voice for the magazine media industry. Established in 1919, MPA represents 265 domestic, associate and international members. MPA is headquartered in New York City, with a government affairs office in Washington, DC.

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