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Ian Samuel 

Are influencers the magazine publishers of the future?

Are influencers the magazine publishers of the future?

There's a strong overlap between the type of content published by magazines and by influencers, writes Ian Samuel. Here's why brands are increasingly favouring the latter

In a year when even the print edition of NME has fallen by the wayside, it feels like the future of the magazine has never been more uncertain, with key eyeballs (and budgets) shifting to social media – and in particular, influencers.

The consumers who were once reaching for the news-stands for inspiration, particularly in fashion and luxury, now just scroll through their newsfeeds.

The topic was raised in a debate on one of our recent Marketing Influencer Hustle panels and it would appear the numbers (both in the UK and the US) back this up.

According to the AA/Warc Adspend figures for Q1, magazine spend was down 11% (4% digital) between 2016 and 2017, and forecast to drop a further 8.2% (3.8% digital) in 2018 and another 5.8% (1% digital) in 2019.

Across the pond the Association of Magazine Media reports that magazine ad spending last year, from the 50 biggest advertisers, fell from $6.5 billion to $6.1 billion in 2016.

Meanwhile, figures in the UK from eMarketer’s most recent forecast show that in 2018, marketers in the UK will spend £3.3 billion ($4.2 billion) on social network advertising, a 24% increase compared to 2017 – meaning it has overtaken all but TV of the traditional ad formats.

Elsewhere, research from marketing agency Mediakix found the influencer economy was worth $1.6 billion in 2018.

There’s a lot of overlap between the content published by influencers and magazines. Both tend to publish visually-heavy materials targeted at a select audience, and both often thrive on catering for niche, even bizarre interests.

Are the people who read The Croquet Gazette any stranger than the people who follow Kanye Doing Things? If that question doesn’t break the internet, then I don’t know what will.

But there are a number of key reasons why the influencer is starting to encroach on the magazine’s share of the pie. For one thing, the content is cheaper to make, but just as high quality. And for another, it’s more accessible. An influencer feed is like a magazine tailored directly to individuals, because users can choose to view content from producers they like and mix and match content.

There have also been huge improvements in some of influencer marketing’s historically troubling areas, such as what is an ad and what isn’t.

Consumers are realising that when an influencer posts ads, it is not something which should be viewed as deliberately misleading or disingenuous.

When you flick through a magazine, you aren’t appalled when you find adverts between the content you’ve paid for. We are slowly getting to the place when this is true for influencers. Followers now expect to view a certain amount of sponsored posts in return for high quality content.

Another reason marketers are putting their ad spend behind influencers is because of the growing levels of measurability you can now achieve, from literally reading the comments,  likes, click-throughs, and views which show how well the ad is doing, and how consumers are responding to your product.

At Buzzoole, we know this measurement needs to be more robust so we have worked with Nielsen to provide ‘True Reach’ statistics for our clients, to establish a metric that can specifically define how many users have been reached during an influencer marketing campaign – the technology that will be developed in the coming years will bring brands even more visibility about the success of their campaigns.

This is why, again according to the Association of Magazine Media, some of the world’s top brands are pulling spend out of magazines. These include LVMH Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which cut spending by $15.2 million to $216.3 million; Unilever, which dropped it’s spend by $61.2 million to $158.5 million and Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., which reduced by $46.3 million to $95.3 million.

All these brands have one thing in common; all have increased spend on Influencer Marketing.

In terms of the future, we believe the investment will continue to move away from magazines and towards influencers. We are getting to the point where marketers are viewing influencers as publishers and small creative business owners, ones who have shown a skill in building an audience that can be spoken to directly with interesting high end content.

Ian Samuel is chief commercial officer at influencer marketing platform Buzzoole

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AnnaSampson, Insight and strategy director, Magnetic on 10 Dec 2018
“Influencers or magazines? That is the question.

Except that isn’t the question at all.

It doesn’t, in fact, have to be one or the other.

Magazines have proved themselves hugely adaptable to current trends and the advent of influencers is no different.

It’s worth remembering that magazines invented the concept of the influencer. Editors and journalists have been setting trends and recommending products since the first magazine launched. The influencer ecosystem may have evolved significantly as brands explore new strategies and commercial opportunities, but the introduction of more influencers to the ranks doesn’t make magazines irrelevant.

Magazines and their editors have always been influential and continue to be so.

We found that for a key time in the fashion calendar – London Fashion Week – magazine content was more widely shared, with magazine posts achieving on average eight interactions per post, compared to two for bloggers. There were similar results for the Geneva motor show when looking at journalists versus bloggers, demonstrating the power of magazine content across sectors.

Magazine brands are experts in producing engaging content and are taking these skills to the social media space to great effect. It’s their skills in expert and quality editorial that are paying off here as well as their long-standing reputation.

This is backed up by a number of studies that have looked at media environment and trust. Our own study found that overall 70 per cent of respondents said they trusted magazine media, as opposed to just 30 per cent trusting social media environments. The same sentiment is true with under 35s, with 62 per cent trusting magazines versus 35 per cent trusting social. With the evolution of magazine brands it is key to note it is the brand not the platform that inspires trust.

With titles such as NME, Glamour and InStyle moving to digital-only, the latest ABC results underline that readership remains strong with a 21 per cent increase in circulation for magazine media’s digital editions, demonstrating that magazine brands are able to expand into new channels without sacrificing the trust they inspire.

It is very short sighted to discredit the future of one medium over another. Ultimately brands want people to pay attention to their advertising without risking brand safety. Magazines have always offered these trusted environments to advertisers and will continue to do so in 2019 and beyond.”