Did UK magazine circulation figures just confirm what we already knew?
August 17, 2016

As the UK’s magazine circulation figures for the first half of this year are published, the media trade press is understandably – and correctly – awash with plaudits for 2016’s high-achievers.

Here at Ink we’re not too big or complacent to think we can’t learn from what other successful media companies are doing right but, having taken our looking-glass to the ABC figures, do they not tell us something we already know? Or is that just me?

So what is today’s news? Cosmopolitan, the biggest riser in 2016 so far, has achieved a staggering 60% circulation increase by slashing their cover price (to a quid), while also distributing 100,000 magazines to people for FREE as they travel through airports, shops and cinemas.

Before we even start questioning exactly how you read a magazine in a darkened cinema, let’s back up a bit. This is great news for Cosmo and Hearst, but isn’t this critically lauded strategy not just a localized version of what inflight and travel media has been doing for nearly 50 years?

Surely the ground rules are the same for all magazine publishers? We need ever-growing numbers of engaged readers, year-on-year, so that brands are attracted to advertise with us, to ensure we can keep on publishing the magazines. Or is what we have been doing since Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich were riding high in the pop charts (Google it kids) way too simple?Maybe the big difference here is one of long-term sustainability. The inflight media model (rather than its newsstand mirror) is totally unique, in that its market size will double by 2034. Yes, you heard me correctly, DOUBLE.

Let me run that by you again: our potential market of real, live, actual readers (not a click or predictive formula or equation) will go up 5% year-on-year for the foreseeable future. And the beauty of air travelers is that we know they have the disposable income to afford flights.

A cursory glance around any duty-free shop will also show you what an enthusiastic consumer group they are. What’s more, we know they are inspired to travel more and purchase more when they are in transit. All in all, an advertiser’s dream!

So yes Anna Jones (the chief executive of Hearst), you are right to be “encouraged” that your “strategy” is “working” but I’m afraid to say that your “dynamic new route to market” is old news for us and our smart advertisers and readers.

So come on. Stop trying to read your glossy women’s magazine in the cinema and come talk to us and our current passenger audience of 783 million people worldwide.Talk to Ink. We are travel media.

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