Magazine Marketing Strategy: Ad Study Shows Publishers in Strong Position

New Nielsen Catalina multi-year media survey yields some interesting results on magazine marketing strategy

When we talk magazine marketing strategy, typically we’re talking from the point of view of publishers. But advertisers have a magazine marketing strategy, too, of course – to begin with, it involves whether to buy ads in magazines at all. Well, with the recent release of a Nielsen Catalina study, the answer on that one seems to be a resounding – if not surprising, to some – yes, which is great news for all parties.

Not such great news, necessarily? Digital video ad ROI is lagging despite the hype, also surprising to some. has the scoop on the study and more. Let’s get started!

What Does Ad Study Mean for Magazine Marketing Strategy?

Perhaps some surprising news has been released from a Nielsen Catalina study long in the making, reports.

“Magazines deliver by far the best return on ad spending when compared to TV, digital display and video, mobile and cross-media campaigns, according to a study set to be presented today by Nielsen Catalina Solutions at the Advertising Research Foundation Audience Measurement 2016 Conference in New York. The medium delivering the lowest return in the study is digital video, arguably the hottest for CPG marketers and for much of the marketing world,” Jack Neff writes.

“The study appears to be unprecedented in scope in terms of looking at norms for return on ad spending (ROAS) across multiple media – albeit only for CPG. The conclusions are drawn from analysis of 1,400 research projects spanning more than a decade across 450 brands. … Magazines delivered ROAS of $3.94 per dollar of media spent. Digital video delivered only $1.53. Other media explored in the study – TV, digital display, mobile, and cross-media campaigns – were in the middle, clustered around $2.50 per dollar of media spending.”

Are Digital Media Publishers In the Catbird Seat? Thrillist CEO Says Yes.

Ben Lerer, CEO of Thrillist Media Group, believes that digital publishers are in the midst of a “golden age,” but there are some caveats, Ad Age reports.

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“When I look at media brands, if a media brand disappeared tomorrow, would I notice? And there are a bunch of brands that have scale, and maybe a lot of money raised, and maybe this and that, but, actually, I might not know for a year. There’s so many brands like that. Like, what does it really stand for? Why does it exist?” Lerer told Jeremy Barr.

“At some point, the rubber meets the road and we’re like, ‘Are we doing Facebook Live because Facebook is saying that we need to, and we’re going to do the bare minimum to check the box of not sort of screwing up the relationship there? Or do we think that … there’s a real role for us here and we want to participate in a meaningful way.”

Brands as Publishers: Content Marketing Efforts Paying Off

Companies like Casper, Airbnb, Harry’s, and many others are finding that the magazines – from print to digital – they’re creating as content marketing components are positively impacting loyalty, engagement, and other branding considerations, AdAge reports.

“For brands that have journalistic ambitions, the key is to create a separate, walled-off part of the company that can pursue that goal independently, New York University journalism professor and media analyst Jay Rosen said in an interview,” Barr writes.

“For many of these publications, the goal is not content virality, but rather to engage and please brand customers. But it’s hard to gauge how much traction the outlets are actually getting online. Van Winkle’s, Mel, and Wakefield don’t meet ComScore’s minimum traffic threshold for reporting;, which does not break down traffic for Five O’Clock, received 530,000 U.S. multiplatform unique visitors for April.”

What are your thoughts on the Nielsen Catalina ad study? Will it impact your magazine marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments!

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