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Magazines: The Safest Bet in Advertising

VIDEO: ROI Expert Rex Briggs Details Why Print Is Crucial to Media Mix

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PHOENIX (AdAge.com) -- No topic is more top of mind for marketers than just what they are getting for their ad dollars. Does the money they spend with TV, internet and magazines actually result in brand awareness and sales? Rex Briggs, CEO of Marketing Evolution and co-author of "What Sticks," addressed this morning's American Magazine Conference with some heartening news for the magazine industry: Magazines are the most consistent of all media in delivering both brand awareness and purchase intent.

Cross-media accountability
Mr. Briggs set out to determine for his marketer clients, which include companies such as Ford Motor Co., Kraft Foods, Philips, Astra Zeneca and Procter & Gamble, just which parts of their media mix were working and how each of the media worked together to deliver a marketer's goals. His company looked at 19 cross-media accountability studies it had conducted for marketers in the automotive, pharmaceutical, entertainment, electronics and retail categories, measuring the real-world results of 19 campaigns, and aggregated them to find patterns of how each medium -- TV, internet and magazines -- delivered.

TV was dominant in all the studies as a way to increase brand awareness. But magazines proved to be more effective at both brand awareness and purchase intent. Magazines were superior to both TV and online in driving purchase intent.

"Magazines are the most consistent performer of all media measured if you look at ROI," Mr. Briggs told attendees. "As a marketer you maximize ROI when [you] use all media, and magazines were key to that. Each element of the marketing mix must find its own strength and leverage it to surround the consumer with a synergistic and consistent message. Leaving magazines out of the mix is tremendous mistake."

Mags crucial to auto industry
TV ads increased brand awareness by 12%, but magazines were the next most effective at driving brand awareness, increasing it by 6%. Online ads only raised brand awareness 1%. Magazines become even more important when looking at what drives consumers to purchase, however. TV increased purchase intent 3%, online increased it 2%, but magazine ads increased purchase intent by 5%. That finding was consistently strong across categories as well, said Mr. Briggs, who noted that automotive especially should not leave magazines out of the equation when building a media plan.

"If you took all 19 studies and look at the number of times marketers achieved brand awareness, TV was the most consistent way to do that," Mr. Briggs said. "Not all campaigns worked, sometimes the message was wrong, and not all marketers got results. But ... the most consistent performer we found was magazines. It's the safest bet to make if you want to achieve results."

Watching the pod
Later, while answering questions from the audience, Mr. Briggs addressed the issue of how a switch from TV programming ratings to commercial ratings will affect his findings and how he evaluates the ROI of a media mix.

"What will happen now is that instead of trying to get people to watch a TV program, its going to be about trying to get people to stick around through the commercial pod through to the next segment," Mr. Briggs said. "It's a good news/bad news scenario. It will remove some of the overstatement of TV's power to reach consumers, debunk the myth that you achieve 80% to 90% reach with TV. What it will prove is that reach is expensive, because not everyone sticks around for the commercials. That's why it's so important to include magazines and internet. TV looks much higher than perhaps it is in a given campaign because of programming ratings."

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