Industry Voices

Liz Martin | Commercial Marketing & Insight Director | Bauer Media

By Jess Browne-Swinburne

8 Apr 2020

In the last week alone, Bauer Media has seen their subscription performance more than double with an increase of over 160% as people seek out content to help make the most of being at home. "Clearly magazines are well placed to meet these content needs", says Liz Martin Commercial Marketing & Insight Director at Bauer, "and we are seeing this having a significant impact on magazine subscriptions."

In her interview with the PPA, Martin explains what Bauer research projects are planned around, the "Bauer Insiders" that provide this data and what she hopes to focus on when this crisis is over.

What made you want to work in the publishing industry?

I love reading. I initially wanted to work in book publishing, accidentally ended up in magazine publishing, and have found myself staying here ever since. I love the brands, I love the people that work on magazine brands and I still love reading.

Chart your career from the start to where you are now.

I started my career as marketing exec at an academic book publisher called Academic Press based in Academic House in Camden. From there I went to work at Faber and Faber where I worked on book launches for so many amazing writers, from Alan Bennett to Ted Hughes to Kazuo Ishiguro. Then, in a slightly tangential move, I went from the world of literary fiction to the equally fascinating magazine world as Marketing Manager at Emap. I initially worked on iconic teen mags like More! and Just Seventeen, and then moved into the celebrity world of heat and Closer – back in the heady days of selling nearly a million copies a week! I then took a more academic move, heading up the Bauer research team before becoming publishing director of Empire, MOJO, Q, Kerrang! and Yours. I love that I now work in exactly the same offices in Academic House where I started my career – I’ve somehow come full circle.

On a general level, how do you decide what subject area you are going to conduct insight studies into?

Everything we do in commercial research is designed to provide our sales teams with great insights to share with our advertisers. As Bauer Media has a network of brands serving diverse audiences across multiple platforms – from magazines to radio to digital to events – we try to create insight studies that are going to be useful in many different ways. We plan our research projects around:

a. Key categories that are relevant to our advertisers such as entertainment, music, retail, motoring, Christmas, health & fitness

b. Trends that are affecting our audiences such as how consumers are adapting in times of changing technology or how trust is increasingly important in a time of fake news

c. Key audiences including Gen Z or the maturity market, and their relationship with Bauer Media brands

How do you collect and collate your insight studies?

We use a variety of sources – sometimes we will start with desk research to see what is already in existence and then work out how we can add something new or specific to it. Other times, we might add analysis from TGI, Touchpoints or similar. Mostly, to gain unique Bauer insights, we regularly use our panel of Bauer consumers called ‘The Bauer Insiders’. The Insiders are a community of people who have opted in to receive regular surveys which provide invaluable insight into all aspects of their lives. The Insiders consume a wide range of Bauer Media’s brands across digital, radio, print, TV & events and we can contact them any time to ask really specific questions, from streaming behaviour to COVID-19.

Bauer recently released some COVID-19 insights – how many people did you survey?

We sent a survey to our Bauer Insiders and weighted the response to be nationally representative (weighted on gender, age, social grade & region). We had a sample size of 1621. The idea was sparked by the volume of requests we were receiving for research into the impact of COVID-19 on magazine & radio consumption. My incredible team rolled up their sleeves, decided to run an Insiders survey and managed to turn the results around within a day. This meant that the results we had reported were the most timely information that anyone had at that point.

Did the insights surprise you? For example that positivity outweighs pessimism and magazine sales are up

The first wave of research was carried out Thursday 19th March-Sunday 22nd March 2020, the week after Bauer Media employees all started working from home. Clearly not everyone was at that stage though, and I was surprised at how many people were still going to work. It reminded us again that we live in a London bubble and that the virus hadn’t reached everyone in the country in the same way at that point. I wasn’t surprised that media consumption had changed significantly, with people saying that they were listening to more radio, reading more magazines, or using their smart speakers more, as it was easy to understand why patterns of behaviour were shifting. It was great to see people resiliently adapting to the changes and getting on with things. I’m not sure they were completely truthful about their toilet paper purchasing though!

Can you provide any deeper insights into how magazine sales have been affected during this time across Bauer Media Group?

We’ve just asked the Insiders a bit more detail on their magazine consumption and have received the findings today. 11% of our respondents said that they have increased their magazine reading in April – when we took the measure in March, 6% said they were reading magazines so that has increased significantly. We also have some deeper insights into which types of magazine content they are most interested in. Unsurprisingly, people are looking for film, TV & music recommendations, puzzles & quizzes, and easy recipes that you can make using ingredients from the cupboard. There is also a need for more positive news stories and advice on how to make the most of being at home. Clearly magazines are well-placed to meet these content needs and we are seeing this have a significant impact on magazine subscriptions. In fact, in the last month Bauer has seen an increase of over 70% in the number of new subscriptions purchased online vs this time last year and in the last week alone this performance has more than doubled, with an increase of over 160%.

What industry-related thing has been on your radar?

We did some research a couple of years ago on how people were reacting to the increased pace of change – technological, social, economic, political – and who they trust in times of accelerated change. Once we get back to some semblance of normality, I want to repeat this work to get a new read on the potential longer-term impact of this latest period of astonishing change. I’m sure it will surface some fascinating insights that will be so useful and interesting to our advertisers.

What magazine would you choose to stockpile?

Empire, MOJO and Yours!

ADVERTISMENT

Related articles

9 Jun 2021
Industry Voices

Madeleine Walsh | Creative Solutions Director | Hearst UK

In the last week alone, Bauer Media has seen their subscription performance more than double with an increase of over 160% as people seek out content to help make the most of being at home. "Clearly magazines are well placed to meet these content needs", says Liz Martin Commercial Marketing & Insight Director at Bauer, "and we are seeing this having a significant impact on magazine subscriptions."

In her interview with the PPA, Martin explains what Bauer research projects are planned around, the "Bauer Insiders" that provide this data and what she hopes to focus on when this crisis is over.