believed those who said magazines were on the verge of extinction in India, a session at the Indian Magazine Congress, 2007, would have come as a surprise. The panellists there dived in at the deep end to save the magazine's prestige, by pointing out exactly how the magazine helps an advertiser score the edge.
Gopalratnam Kannan, country manager, Swatch Group India, began the 'Save the Magazine' cause by launching into his own brush with the medium. "Thirty years ago, as a kid, I used to visit the salon rather often and spend long hours there, to the amazement of my parents," he said. "That was because I enjoyed reading magazines such as 'Reader's Digest' while there, as we couldn't afford these at home!" Coming back to the present, he said that things have evolved since then: Today, one hears of online magazines and intellectual content.
Providing a media planner's perspective, Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal, shared some interesting statistics from his own agency. Lodestar has several clients such as L'Oreal, Madura Garments and Microsoft, who invest heavily in magazine advertising. "So, we do a lot of studies on magazines which go beyond just numbers and reach/frequency stats," he said. One such study, the Brand Engagement Study, reaches out to consumer groups and reveals their brand association scores. "We found that magazines are a higher source of trust for people," said Sinha.
Interestingly, the degree of concurrent use reduces dramatically in magazines, meaning that people don't usually multi-task when reading a magazine like they do while consuming other media such as television. This also implies a far less ad avoidance quotient than on other media.
Vineet Taneja, business director, multimedia, Nokia India, contributed his own 'mag' story: Twenty years ago, Taneja got himself a job at Hindustan Unilever solely on the basis of one viewpoint. When asked to cite an ad he recalled from the recent past, Taneja cited a Dettol ad he'd seen in a magazine. This led to a debate, and Taneja ended up with an appointment letter in his pocket.
Taneja said that the industry today is plagued by an obsession with numbers: Reach and frequency still rule the roost. "I guess we as advertisers are to be blamed for not giving imaginative briefs to our agencies, while media agencies must accept their share of the blame for not going beyond numbers," he added.
Taneja added that two facts could not be ignored from the advertiser's point of view: Magazines are an afterthought for certain categories, while some others, particularly niche ones, benefit from them. Four categories - lifestyle, prestige, luxury and technology - were identified as key 'magazine' categories.
"Magazines offer advertisers a far sharper, well defined profile of their target group, which is why segmented targeting happens here," said Taneja. Secondly, magazines allow for a more contextual platform for ads. A Gelusil ad alongside a 'Reader's Digest' article on acidity would form a perfect example of this.
Kannan was quick to add that if one was thinking of targeting a mass audience with a new scheme/promotion, perhaps a newspaper would do the job best, and not a magazine.