Users are swallowing tablets; publishers should do the same

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In collecting data for its “Survey of the American Consumer,” market research company GfK MRI conducts interviews with about 26,000 U.S. adults annually. These in-home interviews indicate that Americans are embracing digital magazine content. GfK MRI found that reading digital versions of magazines on desktop or laptop computers, tablets, e-readers and smartphones now accounts for 11% of the total gross magazine audience in the U.S. The company said the total gross magazine audience, which it defined as the number of consumer exposures to magazine content on any platform, including print and digital formats, totaled 1.58 billion between March and October this year. The total digital-only audience in that period was 166 million. Digital Directions spoke with GfK MRI's chief research officer, Julian Baim, to get his thoughts on the implications of his company's survey. Digital Directions: What did you find surprising in the study regarding the use of tablets? Julian Baim: We didn't really expect these other platforms to increase greatly the reach of the print brands, but what was surprising was that these platforms—computers, laptops, mobile phones, e-readers and iPads—were able to increase exposure and the different sources of that exposure even among people who don't read (print) magazines. They're really accessing these brands in so many different ways; it really expands the footprint. So it was surprising to see the exposures increasing that much beyond the print brand. DD: How much additional reach are these digital platforms providing? Baim: About 81.1% of the population reads one of these (250) magazines (we include in our survey). We're only looking at these magazines, so you could only really extend the reach another 18 percentage points. Now, the reach is extended to 83.2%. DD: Given these data, what advice do you have for publishers? Baim: What they have to look into is whether, particularly from an advertising point of view, they can coordinate the advertising message across these devices. If you have advertising in the paper version, are you advertising the same brands in your other versions so that you're taking advantage of the reach across all the platforms? The other part is you've got to be concerned at a certain point—and I'm not sure it's at this point now—about ultimately cannibalizing your reach of the paper version. I don't believe we're nearly close to that point. DD: Mobile readership tends to be male, high-income and college graduates—according to GfK MRI data—which seems like a good audience for b-to-b. What struck you about the demographics? Baim: The tablet is a more male-owned device right now than a female-owned device. That fact that its (ownership) is younger, and upscale and affluent ties in with the fact that you need technologically advanced and expensive devices to access the platforms.
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