If the last time you’ve thumbed through a magazine was in an airport Hudson News or waiting in line at the grocery store, you’re not alone.
It’s also probably been years since a salesman has rung your doorbell with a tremendous offer on a magazine subscription.
Despite that, when it comes to consumer packaged goods, a decade’s worth of data show that magazine ads are providing brand managers’ their biggest “return on ad spending.” The data analyzed 1,400 research projects across 450 brands.
A study from Nielsen Catalina Solutions reveals that—when pitted against TV, digital display, video, mobile and cross-media campaigns—magazines delivered the highest return.
As many marketers continue to set their sights—and budgets—on video, the study delivers some heartbreaking news: Digital video ranked lowest with regards to return.
In the study, Nielsen Catalina uses the term “return on ad spending” (ROAS) instead of return on investment (ROI) to “help indicate that the results measure only incremental sales impact per dollar of advertising spent, not profit impact,” Advertising Age reports.
Here are a few details, and how they might relate to your marketing efforts:
Pricing makes a difference
Ad Age reports that Nielsen Catalina chief research officer Leslie Wood revealed the key difference between magazines and digital video—pricing.
“Everybody wants to be in digital video,” Wood told Ad Age. “There is very little inventory, so the price is high. It’s the reverse in magazines, which are undervalued in the marketplace.”
Perhaps there is marketing value in the time consumers spend waiting in grocery lines or killing time by browsing magazine racks.
Here’s more from Ad Age:
Magazines had the lowest cost per thousand impressions (CPM) in the study, and digital video the highest. Magazine audiences in the study were bolstered by inclusion of secondary audiences—the pass-along readership that occurs everywhere from doctors’ offices to friends’ homes.
Consumers pay attention to brand characteristics
Often, a brand’s success is determined by how consumers relate to it. If consumers identify specific human traits within a brand’s marketing, they’re more likely to gravitate toward its products.
An effective brand [manager] will increase brand equity by having a consistent set of traits. This is the added-value that a brand gains, aside from its functional benefits. Customers are more likely to purchase [from] a brand if its personality is similar to their own.
The study found that bigger brands with a shorter purchase cycle had a higher ROAS compared with smaller brands with a fixed level of purchasing across time. Well-branded or more “marquee” brands also had the highest ROAS from magazine marketing.
Though the study states it could not control a marketing strategy’s “creative [department],” it says researchers known that creative often is a primary driver of all measures (ROI, ROAS and incremental sales). The study says that to drive sales, marketing efforts must strive for creativity and to be “as strong as they can be.”
Don’t underestimate TV advertising
As many marketers flock to digital video as a means to entice younger consumers, Woods told Ad Age that TV shouldn’t be overlooked.
From Ad Age:
Much of the money that’s been chasing digital video and driving up its CPMs has been driven by the search to find millennial and Gen Z audiences that have gotten harder to reach with conventional TV or magazines. But regardless of the demographics, the Nielsen Catalina data suggest there’s plenty of sales impact to be had from older media.
According to Woods, data show that TV has “dramatically higher reach” compared with other advertising channels.
“Reach is expensive,” she said, “so it’s interesting that no matter how high its reach is, linear TV does a tremendous job of driving sales.”
When considering which medium to use in your next CPG marketing campaign, the study points to magazines first, but TV—because of its immense reach—shouldn’t be discounted.
What surprises you most about the study’s findings, Ragan readers, and why?