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.
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