Every six months the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) release the latest circulation figures for the consumer magazine market – and each time the industry braces itself for more bad news.
The release months – February and August – have typically been the key focal points of the year for all magazine publishers, and advertisers, to assess how well magazine brands have performed, with results reported both year-on-year (YoY) or period-on-period (PoP).
According to the latest results, the women’s lifestyle market has seen some growth, with Tatler’s total print and digital circulation rising by 0.1% to 79,109, while Stylist grew 0.2% to 404,392. Harper’s Bazaar recorded the largest growth over the first half of the year, up 1.1%. However, the other 14 titles within the sector all saw declines.
Following the closure of ShortList last year, the men’s lifestyle sector is now led by Men’s Health magazine – but the title saw a significant -11% drop year-on-year, also proving the difficulty of staying afloat in the male market.
TV listings boast strong numbers with TV Choice circulating 1,122,207 and What’s On TV at 778,348 – but these both reported declines this month.
After a quick read, the results look relatively bleak, with most sectors having had another tough year, as they continue to see falling circulations.
However, it is worth noting that magazine brands have evolved – it is no longer only about distribution of physical copies, as publishers focus on on increasing their presence across multiple consumer-facing touchpoints.
Digital presence via social in particular has become increasingly more relevant; in addition to brands now putting on live events, hosting awards and more.
Through these new ways to engage it is becoming apparent that ABCs are no longer a complete reflection of a publisher’s true brand reach.
In line with the shift away from focusing solely on the ABCs, Marie Claire in particular announced they were moving to an annual release of figures which will be published in February 2020.
After pledging to shake up their newstrade strategy by removing covermounts and reducing cut-price tactics, they believe that reporting an annual figure is a more accurate reflection of the brand, and its value.
As the print market continues to evolve, magazine brands will seek new ways to grow loyalty and increase their following.
Their reach should ideally be taken in the context of their wider touchpoints – however our ability to measure the impact of this remains fairly limited. Until this changes, the ABCs will remain the most accurate publication of data.