How branded content is taking over magazine publishing

Thursday, 20 February 2014 - 5:52pm

How branded content is taking over magazine publishing

Recent ABC results was another great moment for owned media, with content marketing titles dominating the results league table. The top three magazines in the UK all came from the discipline, with The National Trust, Asda and Tesco taking the coveted gold, silver and bronze positions.

In total, six of the top 10 magazines in the UK belonged to own brands. Further demonstrating how placing magazines in store in the right place at the right time can be so effective, branded titles also delivered 70% of the circulation of the top 10 magazines in the UK, reaching over nine million consumers, and 84% of the top five.

We know that owned media is the fastest growing media channel and that print continues to be an integral part of the mix for many major brands. Amongst this is retail, which continues to lead all sectors. In particular, grocery titles celebrated huge success; Asda recorded an impressive circulation of just under two million, closely followed by Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose, brands which all featured in the top 10. Waitrose Kitchen has seen a particularly meteoric rise with its circulation nearly doubling year-on-year and achieving the highest growth out of the top 200 magazines in the UK - especially remarkable given that this title has a cover price.  

The growth of the channel is even more notable thanks to new entrants to the market; these included Pet People, which reaches over 500,000 consumers and sits just above Shortlist in the top 20 at number 12.

The high profile launch of Net-A-Porter’s Porter magazine, which is priced at £5, is another example of how branded content and the content marketing discipline is at the forefront of the competitive magazine market. It crosses into the branded content category, and it will be fascinating to see how it fares against more established titles such as Vogue.

With more and more brands taking ownership of their own media channels, it’s clear that consumers are continuing to invest their time in high quality editorial products. Critics have argued that much of the success of content marketing magazines is down to the fact that many of them are free, but with Waitrose, a paid-for title, winning the prize for the highest growing magazine this year, doubters may be forced to rethink. High-end fashion glossy Porter may also add to this debate.

The longevity of customer magazines from brands such as Tesco and Waitrose is undoubtedly impressive, but the growth of content publishing is not limited to print magazines.

Tesco recently relaunched its magazine across multiple channels, allowing digital innovations to drive customer engagement beyond print. The new content includes an augmented reality cover and click-to-buys, so enabling customers to instantly buy products featured in the magazine via the online store using the Tesco Discover app. Customers can also use AR to access interactive recipe videos on YouTube.

And with a tablet edition, e-zines and food and lifestyle content across six social media platforms, it all means that digital and print integrate to deliver a new, exciting customer experience.

It’s all part of a step change for content marketing. The latest research from Yahoo Advertising Solutions stated that 78% of CMO’s think custom content is the future of marketing and recent industry research from content marketing agency Seven also revealed that consumers think content from brands is the best way to help them select and buy products and services – more than outdoor, TV & radio ads. 57% said they felt more positive towards brands that generated content for them, which explains the 25% net increase in spend in ‘owned media’ in each of the two years and the fact that £4 billion is now spent annually on owned media in the UK. The CMA’s own research with TNS Global found that those using content marketing spend approximately 20% of their budgets on it and it’s their single most important channel.

In this changing media landscape, where increasingly it seems that consumers are interested in content from brands they trust, customer magazines across multiple channels are a threat to be reckoned with. Watch this space!

Clare Hill, Managing Director, Content Marketing Association

This article first appeared on the website of media intelligence service MediaTel and subsequently on the website of the Content Marketing Association