Magazines rank second only to TV in automotive media buys, and the magazine industry plans to use the results of a recent study to try to keep those dollars flowing. The study, by Millward Brown, a market-research firm in Fairfield, Conn., says magazines are nearly four times more effective than TV in an index of automotive spending to ad awareness.
Now the magazine industry, through the Magazine Publishers of America trade association, plans to break down those statistics even further. The first study just examined overall automotive advertising. James McEwen, senior vice president and group publisher of Family Circle/McCall's magazines, says magazines are funding additional research to test the ad awareness of specific automotive brands in magazines vs. TV. He says the magazine industry also will do extensive testing of creative to determine which types of ads work best with consumers. Results should be available by spring.
'I think TV is in big trouble,' McEwen says. 'When (TV) falls, we want to be there.'
Automotive represents the largest revenue source for magazines, and magazine executives expect automakers this year to top even last year's healthy spending levels of $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion.
'There's so much new product in the pipeline, and it's all exciting, in the auto industry right now,'says Christine Miller, executive vice president of Magazine Publishers of America. 'But the companies also want to differentiate products from one another, which leads to targeting -and that leads to magazines.'
What about the Internet? Miller considers it complementary to print. Most automakers' ads now include a Web address, she notes, because automakers 'want to drive people from that ad to the next step in the purchase process.'
Miller notes, however, that publishers are not taking anything for granted. They are working harder with car companies, for example, to provide price breaks and other enticements for those that advertise across a company's range of publications. More magazines also are sponsoring or cosponsoring local or regional festivals or other events along with automotive nameplates.
'We're more challenged to do those sorts of things than TV is,' Miller says. 'We have higher hurdles to jump over.'