MPA: Desktop, Mobile Mag Audiences Dip in June, Digital Visitors Up

By: Sara Guaglione

Magazine media audiences coming via a computer or phone have fallen in June 2017, compared to the same month a year ago, according to the latest Magazine Media 360° Brand Audience Report from MPA - The Association of Magazine Media.

However, video audiences of magazine brands are up.

From June 2016 to June 2017, viewers have grown 24.6%. Video audiences are defined in the MPA report as unique viewers who watched a video at least once through a player owned or operated by the publisher and/or through a clearly branded video channel.

Print readers and digital visitors, which includes those that consume electronic issues of a publication, such as on an e-reader or app, have also increased year-over-year by 3.8%.

Web audiences on a desktop or laptop are down 10.5%. Mobile audiences, which are unique visitors that visit a site on a mobile device, are also down by 4.3%.

The report includes 126 magazine media brands from 30 companies.

The audience numbers for each platform are consistent with trends in recent months, though mobile web audiences were previously flat, rather than down. According to MPA, this is due to a change in comScore’s methodology starting in January.

“We feel that for the remainder of 2017, it is unlikely that we will see positive increases in the mobile audience data versus a year ago. Once the methodological changes have been in effect for 12 months, we expect to see year-over-year audience growth,” an MPA spokesperson said.

As for the breakdown of the audience that consumes magazine media, in June, 54% of audiences came from print and digital, 30% from mobile, 12% from the web and 4% from video.

Seven magazine brands reported year-over-year increases of 10% or more through growth in all of their reported media platforms, including three Conde Nast publications. In order of most percentage growth year-over-year, they are:W, Architectural Digest, Discover, Elle Decor, Conde Nast Traveler, Domino and Travel + Leisure.

The top five magazine brands with the most total audience across all platforms for June were ESPN The Magazine, People, Forbes, WebMD and Better Homes and Gardens, the same line-up as last month.

The magazine brands with the greatest percentage growth in total audience for June, compared to a year ago, were Entrepreneur, W, Teen Vogue, Architectural Digest and Discover.

Author: Sara Guaglione

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Audiobooks Turn More Readers Into Listeners as E-Books Slip

By: Alexandra Altersept

Sales of paperback books are up. Independent bookstores are thriving again. The threat of a digital apocalypse has subsided, as e-book sales have tumbled.

So why did publishers have a wobbly first quarter of 2016? Revenue was down 2.7 percent in the first three months of 2016, compared with the same period in 2015, according to a recent report from the Association of American Publishers, which tracks sales data from more than 1,200 publishers.

Sales of adult books fell by 10.3 percent in the first three months of 2016, and children’s books dropped by 2.1 percent. E-book sales fell by 21.8 percent, and hardcover sales were down 8.5 percent. The strongest categories were digital audiobooks, which rose by 35.3 percent, and paperback sales, which were up by 6.1 percent.

Though the numbers look bad, they’re not all that surprising. For many publishers, the first quarter is often the weakest period of the year. Publishers often save their biggest books for the summer, timed for vacation reading, and the fall, for the holiday shopping period. Typically, publishers make about 20 percent of their profits during the first quarter of the year, according to Michael Cader, a book industry analyst and the creator of Publishers Marketplace.

But there are several factors that might have made book sales at the beginning of this year slightly worse than those in the same period last year. Like the movie business, publishing depends heavily on a few outsize hits each season to drive profits. In the early part of this year, there wasn’t a huge, breakout best-seller, certainly nothing like 2015’s “The Girl on the Train,” which came out in January and sold two million copies in just over four months.

The adult coloring-book fad, which provided a huge boost to publishers and booksellers last year, has started to fizzle, possibly driving down sales this year. (In 2015, some 12 million coloring books were sold in the United States, up from one million in 2014.) And the surge in downloadable audiobook sales might account in part for the decline in hardcover and e-books, if more people are listening to books instead of reading them.

But perhaps the biggest factor affecting publishers’ revenue, and one that is not likely to go away soon, is the decline in e-book sales, Mr. Cader said. While publishers once fretted that digital book sales were eroding more profitable categories like hardcover, they now are finding that e-books — which cost next to nothing to produce and zero to ship and which can’t be returned as unsold merchandise by retailers — are critical profit engines. But e-book sales have fallen precipitously for months, in part because many publishers have raised their prices after negotiating with Amazon and gaining the ability to set their own prices.

The decline of digital sales and stabilization of print may have also led to higher returns of unsold merchandise from booksellers, reducing revenue. And while some book buyers may have traded e-books for print books, others may be buying cheaper, self-published e-books on Amazon.

Those reasons may partly explain why separate data from Nielsen, which tracks only print trade book sales, looks so different from the publishers’ numbers. Nielsen BookScan data showed that sales of print books were up by 16.4 million units in the first half of this year, as Mr. Cader noted on Publishers Marketplace.

It’s unclear if publishers will bounce back by year’s end, but there are encouraging signs. There have been some prominent best sellers, including the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the newly released paperback edition of “The Girl on the Train” and Bill O’Reilly’s latest book, “Killing the Rising Sun,” which sold more than 250,000 copies in its first week. And this fall will be full of new releases from literary heavyweights including Ann Patchett, Ian McEwan, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Safran Foer and Zadie Smith.

Still, some analysts say that the weak first-quarter results might reflect a slow decline in sales that is likely to continue. “I would expect the business to slowly shrink,” said Mike Shatzkin, founder and chief executive of the Idea Logical Company, which analyzes the publishing industry. “As more and more people are reading on multifunction devices, there are all kinds of temptations that intrude on book-reading time.”

Some studies show that leisure reading of literature is in decline in the United States. A  released in August by the National Endowment for the Arts found that in 2015, only 43 percent of American adults had read “a work of literature” for pleasure in the previous year. In a similar study in 1982, 57 percent of adults surveyed said they had read a literary work for pleasure in the previous year.

Author: Alexandra Altersept


The Digital Format That's Fading Faster Than Print

By: Toni Fitzgerald

The rise of smartphones and tablets is doing more than just hurting traditional advertising.

It’s also draining money away from a more traditional form of digital advertising.

A new forecast from ZenithOptimedia, the London agency, forecasts a big boom in worldwide mobile ad spending over the next three years.

But it also forecasts a corollary drop in global desktop spending. At first the dips will be modest, but they’ll pick up quickly as advertisers abandon desktop for mobile.

From 2015 to 2018, total desktop spending will shrink by $10.7 billion. To put that in perspective, that’s more than either newspapers (off $9.6 billion in that span) or magazines (down $4.4 billion).

Mobile, meanwhile, will grow by $81.3 billion, or an incredible seven times as much as the top four traditional media (television, outdoor, radio and cinema) combined in that three-year span.

ZenithOptimedia notes that the shift to mobile from desktop is happening even faster than anticipated.

It upped its forecast to 48 percent growth this year and 33 percent next year.

“We now expect mobile adspend to exceed desktop by $8 billion in 2017, up from the $2 billion we predicted in June,” says the forecast.

By 2018, mobile will account for 60 percent of all digital advertising worldwide.

The shift to mobile reflects global online usage trends.

In the United States, mobile internet usage surpassed desktop a couple years ago. But it generally takes some time for ad spending to reflect usage.

Desktop advertising peaked two years ago, at $99 billion. It’s been declining since, and as advertisers become more comfortable with mobile campaigns, that shift will happen more quickly.

Other advertising trends

In addition to the migration of dollars from desktop to mobile, here are a few other notable trends from the latest global forecast:

-Advertisers are taking the Brexit vote in stride. Though there’d been some worry of advertisers getting spooked, ZenithOptimedia says “most of the impact that Brexit will have on the UK ad market will come in the long term” and projects steady growth of 5.4 percent in Europe this year.

-A stronger upfront, combined with spending from pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods companies, will push broadcast TV advertising up 1 percent this year in the United States, after a 5 percent decline last year.

-Latin American ad spending will decline this year, reflecting recessions in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela, but it will bounce back up slightly next year.

Author: Toni Fitzgerald

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