News

The Power of Print: Free is the Magic Number

Simon Leslie
I imagine most publishers approach ABC day the same way that Vince Vaughn reads his film reviews. Dutifully, but with a gnawing sense of resignation. After all, there’s nothing like a page full of YoY% and PoP% minus signs to get the print doomlords and naysayers rubbing their hands in glee.

Trinity Mirror Solutions even coined a name for this negativity: “printism”, thereby drawing attention to a growing consensus in the advertising industry that the medium isn’t "sexy” and that you’re unlikely to win an award or earn a promotion off the back of print activity.

The reality is somewhat more nuanced. Whilst it’s true that February’s ABC figures revealed an average annual circulation decline of 4%, 60 magazines posted an uplift and some titles appear to be thriving. Stylist continues to prosper, the NME and Time Out both recorded the highest ABC figures in their history, Shortlist and Sport posted increases which maintained their position as the two most popular men’s magazines on the market and The List saw its circulation rocket by 67%. Of course, these titles all have a couple of things in common, other than their success. They are all free and they are all aimed squarely at the millennial market that we were told had fallen out of love with print.

This suggests to me one thing; that print isn’t dead at all, nor even terminally unfashionable. Surely it’s more a matter that consumers – particularly younger ones - are reluctant to pay for content (News UK’s decision to remove the Sun’s paywall being a case in point)? However you look at it, the facts would seem to indicate people are perfectly happy to read well-crafted, ink-on-paper journalism, especially when it’s placed in their hands free of charge.

Of course inflight magazines have long been ahead of this curve on this. For over 50 years air passengers have been able to reach into the seat pocket in front of them, knowing that they can lean back, relax and enjoy the best in gorgeous photography, long-form articles and absorbing interviews with the world’s biggest celebrities.

These are the same passengers that have chosen the next destination for their holiday and bought millions of pounds, euros and dollars’ worth of things they saw in the magazine. The market is far from dead, at Ink we are seeing double digit growth and in 2016 we predict a further boom as we fly people to the Olympics, the Euros, to ski resorts, beaches, golf breaks and all those other treasured holiday escapes.

The good news is that over the next couple of years another 100 million more people will get on a plane. Our sector has a rosy future. As well as providing the perfect place to turn should the inflight movie turn out to be Couples Retreat.

We can connect with any audience you want to reach: from ravers to traders, baby boomers to boomerang kids, Generation Y to geriatrics…pretty much anyone in fact, except perhaps Dennis Bergkamp.* 

Sometimes the best new things are just the old things you forgot.

*Not strictly true, we also publish Eurostar’s magazine.
 

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