No Match Found
The impacts of COVID-19 on consumer magazine print circulation and advertising revenue, coupled with the subsequent closure of some of the country’s most popular titles, accelerated the decline of Australia’s magazine revenue in 2020.
While a continued focus on digital properties will help publishers offset some of these losses, total consumer circulation revenue is forecast to decline from A$389 million in 2020 to A$272 million in 2025. This represents a -9.5 percent CAGR from 2019-2025 based on the midpoint forecast scenario, well below pre-pandemic levels. A loss of advertising revenue and logistical restrictions due to COVID-19 drove the closure of several loss-making titles, whose print versions had been suspended during lockdown.
Are Media adopts a digital and data-led strategy following their rebrand in September 2020.1
Following Bauer Media’s acquisition of Pacific Magazines in October 2019 and subsequent sale to Mercury Capital, eight titles were of Australia’s best-known magazines – ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, InStyle, OK! and NW. The new streamlined entity rebranded as Are Media in September 2020.
It is believed that Are Media’s strategy to grow audiences across all platforms will be digital and data-led, with Are Media’s then-CEO Brendon Hill telling AdNews, “We have been focusing on our digital and data strategies, our subscription sites and ecommerce platforms… It’s been an eventful year but this has positioned our expanded portfolio for success and growth next year and beyond.”2
One bright spot in 2020 was the return to print of Rolling Stone Australia, revived by The Brag Media in May. While the popular glossy fashion magazine, Harper’s Bazaar was closed in May 2020, Hearst Magazine International recently announced that the magazine would be revived from September 2021.
Despite declining revenue, magazine consumption has held relatively strong.
According to March 2021 data by Roy Morgan, Australia’s most popular paid magazine was Better Homes and Gardens, with an average print readership of 1.59 million, down -10.2 percent from the previous year.3
The readership of the second most popular, The Australian Women’s Weekly (1.39 million), grew slightly from the previous year by 3.9 percent. Both brands are owned by Are Media. National Geographic ranked third (914,000), down a hefty -21.5 percent on the previous year, while another Are Media title – Woman’s Day – was next (699,000), down -17.0 percent.4
One positive area for magazines was the growth in readership of home and lifestyle titles. Delicious (up 31.5 percent), Gardening Australia (up 34.5 percent), Vogue Living (up 47.7 percent), and Money Magazine (up 95.3 percent)5 all grew considerably, a result of Australians spending extended periods at home.
Diversification continues to be a driver of magazine revenue, with special events, experiences, and partnerships driving alternative options for consumers and advertisers alike. In October 2020, Vogue’s Fashion Night In festival promoted brand partners through access to special sales, prizes, online events, and masterclasses, all available virtually during the pandemic.
Magazines move into new formats.
In February 2021, Newscorp’s Stellar, a popular Sunday newspaper inserted magazine, launched a new podcast series Something To Talk About hosted by media personality, Samantha Armytage. Ainslee O’Brien, General Manager Commercial Networks of NewsCast (Newscorp Australia’s podcasting arm) said, “We are heavily invested in building out a portfolio of content that becomes a fixture in a listener’s week, podcasts that drive habitual consumption and build a deep and genuine connection with its audience”.6
It is anticipated that we will see more magazines applied into new and diversified formats as a strategy to revive the sector and feed changing consumption preferences accelerated by the pandemic.
Diversification continues to be a driver of magazine revenue, with special events, experiences, and partnerships driving alternative opportunities for consumers and advertisers alike.
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