Magazine Readership Trends Digital

On the surface, the numbers look bad. Magna Global had predicted earlier this year that 2012 ad revenues for magazines would drop 5.9%. Then there’s the drop in traditional print magazine readership to worry about. But a look at the details shows there’s reason for some optimism.

GfK MRI just completed its magazine audience study in the Survey of the American Consumer. The survey considers both print and digital audiences. While traditional audiences dropped 1.7% since the last study, carried out six months earlier, the digital audience grew by 24%. The digital growth isn’t likely to make a big impact in the total audience yet. That’s because the digital audience is still small – about 1% of total circulation. But the numbers are moving in the right direction.

Currently, magazines which significant enjoy consumer-​paid digital circulation include:

  • The Economist
  • ESPN The Magazine
  • National Geographic
  • Game Informer

The news isn’t all bad for print magazines. Just last week, I highlighted a report which showed how media companies are rolling out magazine titles that are connected to special interest TV channels. And, some other special-​interest categories are showing growth. Auto-​related titles like Popular Mechanics and Motor Trend have seen impressive increases. The same is true with gaming magazines like PC Gamer, Game Informer and Official Xbox Magazine.

In an interesting twist, Game Informer, which increased its traditional readership by 2 million, also has digital circulation of 589,565, and must be doing something right. It could a case of quality content or just delivering the kind of content a growing and dedicated readership is looking for.

Either way, it’s safe to say that marketers will be looking to move ad dollars into growing titles like Game Informer. That development shows there’s plenty of advertising life in the magazine industry. And, as digital readership grows, so will the number of marketers willing to advertise in this format.

[Sources: Bazilian, Emma: Magazine Digital Readership. Adweek​.com. 30 May 2012; Where Have First-​Quarter Ad Dollars Gone? Adage​.com. 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 11 Jun. 2012; Moses, Lucia. Who’s Got Digital Circulation. AdWeek​.com. 3 Apr. 2012. Web. 11 Jun. 2012] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.