Selling a Brand May Make a Difference in Magazine Ad Spending

Although industry experts say that magazine closures are far from being over, there is some silver lining for many titles that have discovered the power of selling their brand.

The Publishers Information Bureau recently released its second quarter ad sales data and it points to a slow recovery, but a recovery nonetheless. Those that are surviving closure and maintaining stable ad figures have tapped into selling their brand.

When a magazine like Rolling Stone is able to rally their readers around the brand, ad buyers are investing more into that brand. Publishers are putting an emphasis on the brand as whole by having sales teams sell cross-platform advertising rather than having different ads for different mediums. For example, a media buyer will invest in ad space in the print copy of the Rolling Stone as well as their online portals, like their website, iPad and mobile phone editions.

Broad categories like entertainment, news, technology, opinion leader and business magazines are seeing the most comeback, with some niche lifestyle publications in there as well. Rolling Stone experienced a 71% increase in ad spending in the first quarter of 2011. Also on the increase were Hispanic magazines, which saw an 18% ad spend increase in the same period of time.

When a publication is able to develop a strong brand across several different platforms, it becomes a surer bet for advertisers. Although there are likely to be additional closures in the coming years, the publishers who can tap into brand presence will be able to maintain their positions in the area of media buying.

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Cable TV Networks Encourage New Subscribers

Cable TV providers were panicked initially by the popularity of Hulu.com, an online video viewing service that allows consumers to watch the same TV shows they get on cable, anytime, for free.

Why would viewers continue to pay for their cable membership, the logic goes, if they can get those shows online? Comcast Corp. recently tried to get in on the action by launching a test program that will ask current subscribers to use their account information to access the same shows they enjoy on the boob tube on the Internet instead.

They will not be offering those shows online for free at all; only subscribers will be able to view them. They’re hoping this will incentivize more people to sign up for subscriptions, instead of the current trend in which online options seem to be encouraging current subscribers to cut one more item from their budget.

The eventual goal is for cable networks not to provide their shows for free anymore on channels like Hulu, ad revenue or no ad revenue, though executives say that it’s possible the two can learn to co-exist in some way.

Old shows that are no longer shown on cable may still be available, for example, or cable networks may agree to allow old seasons of current shows to be posted in hopes that viewers will get hooked and start subscribing to see the latest aired show.

If the networks all band together, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to get a lock on online TV show viewers and make illegal uploading of TV shows as dangerous as music sharing became after Napster.

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Local Businesses uses Local and Digital Media Outlets

Traditionally, local businesses have taken advantage of local media outlets to advertise their products and services.

They spend money on ads in the Yellow Pages and the local alt-weekly as well as the major local newspaper and the local magazine publications. As everyone tightens budgets, local outlets are beginning to follow the national companies’ lead in shifting their marketing dollars toward online advertising instead.

This is probably a sound strategy, since studies are showing an increased likelihood that online and digital formats are where their customers will be looking for them. Mobile searches for local services are expected to go up from 27.8% to 35.1% in the next five years, and ad revenue for local searches is expected to improve by 5.8%.

Media outlets are making the shift as well, including putting the Yellow Pages online and launching geo-targeting services that delivers ads based on the mobile user’s zip codes to help them find new businesses in their area. Mobile offers some of the best strategies for local businesses, since simply having a cell phone number implies certain things about your location.

Social media is also on the rise as local businesses put their attention into developing personal relationships with their customers. Always one of the advantages of local businesses has been their personal intimacy, and social media is a great way to let those qualities shine out beyond the people who actually set foot in the store.

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