PPA Marketing Director James Papworth writes on what the latest ABC figures mean for the consumer magazine industry.
Making up the lion’s share of the distance at 40k, there are some who say the bike is where a triathlon is won or lost.
But for a sport that combines three disciplines, it's measured in its totality. Sure, the competitors will be interested in their split times but there will only be one gold medallist and one single time for each of those who make it across the line.
Like those athletes, the publishing companies across the UK that have chosen to compete in this ABC audit period will today be standing, Lucozade bottles held in tightly-clenched fists, as they collectively wait to see their official scores.
This is one of the two big ‘events’ in their calendar and the number on the board will tell the story. Or will it?
In the (not-actually-so) old days of the mid 2000s that might well have been the case. Back then, the ABC figure verified the distribution universe of a hard-copy magazine, and could be taken as a measurement of that brand’s footprint in the world. ABC Day, therefore delivered a headline; a snapshot; a single marker for the whole industry.
But the world has changed. In 2012, as well as the ABC figure, media planners now have access to digital magazine metrics (whether or not there is a ‘parent’ print title) as well as figures for websites, apps, social media audiences, email subscribers and databases.
The competitors might be the same – skilled, professional content creators - but the game is more complex, more competitive and, arguably, more exciting
This release will be awash with split times for brands that are innovating and expanding their touchpoints with audiences.
If you analyse the data available you find a more colourful, three-dimensional picture emerges, which details reach in terms of circulation plus page impressions and downloads, and depth of engagement in terms of actively purchased copies, unique users and active opens.
ABC’s Multi-Platform Certificate, which was launched in December 2011, will later this year pull these metrics together into a single report across an individual brand, while publishers also have the chance to showcase reach across a sector, market or geographical region using the Multi-Platform Certificate (Group).
The most recent Publishing Futures study from the PPA and Wessenden Marketing shows that print still makes up the lion’s share of revenues, comprising 83% of income for the consumer publishers surveyed.
Paper and ink are, for many, where the race is won and lost, reinforcing the value of a trusted, ‘traditional’ print audit figure and the importance of ABC Day.
But Publishing Futures also clearly shows that the race has changed. In the consumer sphere, demand for print has stood firm but publishers are now increasingly competing in multiple disciplines, from mobile to social media and live events. Indeed, digital revenues alone are expected to grow from 8.2% in 2011 to 15.1% in 2013.
So, today has the look and feel of many an ABC Day that preceded it but, to borrow from triathlon terminology, publishing is a market in transition.
The competitors might be the same – skilled, professional content creators - but the game is more complex, more competitive and, arguably, more exciting.