Magazine Ads Make Sales: MPA’s Ellen Oppenheim on the independent study that proves advertisers need print

Independent, client-commissioned studies are proving that magazine ads are essential to improving consumer attitudes toward a brand, convincing consumers to buy, and generating positive return on investment from those campaigns. Those are the results of the latest Dynamic Logic aggregation of the results of 39 client-commissioned studies of cross media advertising accountability.

“Overall, magazines drove consumer behavior more effectively and efficiently than television or online among consumers who were reached by each medium,” according to the results released in Assessing Ad Impact: How TV, Online and Magazines Contribute Throughout the Purchase Funnel. Dynamic Logic, which specializes in advertising accountability research, aggregated the studies as part of its ongoing research into how TV, online and magazine ads impact consumers throughout the five stages of the consumer buying process—aided brand awareness, ad awareness, message association, brand favorability and purchase consideration/intent. The new aggregation revealed that magazines performed consistently well across all stages of the buying process, and in fact had far greater and more efficient impact on the late stages of brand favorability and purchase intent than the other media.

Ellen Oppenheim, executive vice president/chief marketing officer of the Magazine Publishers of America, spoke to Publishing Executive Inbox about the results and what they mean for the magazine publishing industry.

INBOX: What do you find most impressive about these results?
ELLEN OPPENHEIM: I think two things are really impressive. Number one, Dynamic Logic does its own aggregation of client-commissioned studies. This is the third one they’ve done [previous studies were compiled in 2005 and 2007], and with all the changes in the media environment [over that time], magazines remain the leading driver of the very important stages of the purchase funnel—of brand favorability, which is where attitudes shift, and purchase intent, which gets people to buy.

So I think the consistency is one. The other is that this is the first time Dynamic Logic has done anything studying ROI. And when they released that, [it became clear that advertising campaigns] couldn’t win with ROI if magazines weren’t in the mix.

INBOX: What does the study’s findings mean for magazine publishers?
OPPENHEIM: It means we have a very good story to share with clients about why magazines are important to include in the media plan. … This research does show magazines work, but it’s incumbent upon the advertisers to do their research. And that’s what’s so interesting about this: You’ve got all these client-commissioned summaries, and they’re just telling the same story again and again.

There’s another company, called Marketing Evolution, who studied ad effectiveness in 2006 and efficiency [ROI] in 2008, and what you see [between the two companies’ studies] is this pattern that’s pretty impressive. But one of the challenges magazines face is that they’re a very personal medium, and what makes them so valuable to consumers makes them harder to measure in terms of advertising—there’s no signal coming out; it’s harder to track.

The pattern for magazine advertising is unmistakable. Each and every time you see a study, you see the importance of magazine advertising in helping drive sales.

INBOX: What role do magazine ads play in influencing consumers? How are they different from other advertising mediums?
OPPENHEIM: The thing we’ve seen through other independent research is that consumers like magazine advertising, primarily because they can control it and it also tends to be very contextual.

What happens in the buying process is advertisers buy magazine ads for a campaign because they fit with the creative and marketing objective. Whereas in other media sometimes they just drop ads in based on the audiences where they’re not as contextually relevant. We know that consumers like magazine advertising and they pay attention to it, so that helps it to work harder. And we think that’s the reason why magazines are performing so well.

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.