Magazine Industry to Ad Buyers: ROI or Your Money Back

A new initiative led by MPA: The Association of Magazine Media promises large advertisers that magazines can still drive big results—and it's putting its members' money where their mouth is.

The magazine industry has a lot of issues standing in the way of its long-term future, and many of them start with advertising; particularly, convincing ad buyers that magazines remain worthy investments.

(The changing nature of the industry has even led to some surprising moves, such as the decision by Playboy Enterprises to stop publishing nude photos in its eponymous magazine in an effort to appeal to a broader audience, as well as the announcement on Tuesday that magazine giant Condé Nast would be purchasing stalwart online music publication Pitchfork.)

Now the industry’s primary trade group wants to back up the value of publication ads with a big promise. MPA: The Association of Magazine Media announced this week that it would launch the Print Magazine Sales Guarantee, a pledge that promises a certain return on investment for advertisers that buy a qualifying number of ad pages. If that ROI isn’t achieved, the advertiser gets its money back or free ad space.

There are a few requirements for the guarantee, including:

Trackable third-party research covering the type of product advertised. Ad Age notes that one such example of this is packaged food, whose sales outside research firms keep a close eye on.

The advertising campaign must translate to at least 150 gross rating points with adult consumers over a 12-month period—a level equivalent to reaching 125 million people 18  or older, according to the Wall Street Journal [subscription]. (A gross rating point is the common tracking mechanism used by advertisers to figure out the level of impressions an ad campaign creates. It is calculated by multiplying the percentage of the target audience reached by an ad by the frequency the audience sees the ad during a campaign.)

The advertiser must pledge to run a larger campaign with the publisher than it did the previous year.

MPA hasn’t said which companies will be involved in the ad strategy, just that its membership covers 72 percent of overall magazine readership. But the industry’s four largest players—Meredith, Time Inc., Hearst, and Condé Nast—have all committed to taking part in the program, according to Ad Age.

Stephen M. Lacy, the chairman of MPA’s board of directors and Meredith’s CEO, called the move an important step.

“The Print Magazine Sales Guarantee is a clear and powerful statement that magazine media provides unique value to advertisers. We are confident in our product, its future, and the unique role that print magazines play in our multiplatform ecosystem to drive ROI and lift advertisers’ brand sales,” Lacy said in a news release.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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