American Marketer


Print advertising dip may show signs of weak titles, not shrinking market

November 10, 2015

#HMBalmainNation #HMBalmainNation, print campaign


Since September 2014, fashion brands have increased digital advertising by 53 percent while decreasing print placement by 2.3 percent, according to a new report by MediaRadar.

The advent of digital marketing has put print in a trouble spot as marketing budgets have been reallocated to meet consumers where they spend the most time. Although digital has proven itself to be a strong medium for fashion marketers, it does not mean that the print market for sector publications is shrinking.

“Counter to popular expectation, the numbers show that print continues to be a successful format for fashion advertisers,” said Todd Krizelman, CEO of MediaRadar, New York.

“While certainly some individual titles struggle, many are having a strong year,” he said. “We were pleasantly surprised to see almost half of women’s fashion magazines up 15 percent (or more) year-over-year in September.”

For its “Fashion Advertising Study,” MediaRadar reviewed online fashion advertisements overall and those placed on beauty, fashion and home furnishing Web sites. During a year-long period, September 2014 to September 2015, MediaRadar analyzed 27 fashion Web sites and 20 print titles covering women’s fashion.

Strength in digital
MediaRadar offers real-time advertising sales insights and intelligence, gathered using a proprietary algorithm. The data collected provides more than 1,400 publishers, including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, with insights on ad buying behavior unavailable elsewhere.

Through its algorithm, MediaRadar analyzes advertising placements for more than 2.3 million brands across Web sites, magazines, newspapers and mobile sites.

In the Fashion Advertising Study, MediaRadar found that 53 percent more fashion brands placed efforts online in September 2015 compared to the year-ago. During the time under review, there were 3,222 total advertisers.

Also, marketers placed 36 percent more campaigns in beauty, fashion and home furnishing outlets than the year-ago. These accounted for 27 percent of all digital advertisers on fashion Web sites.


Chloe's fall/winter 2015 ad, in print and digital

The growth in the digital sector is attributed mainly to programmatic and untargeted ads.

Although totals have increased, the sites reviewed did not publish more advertising in comparison to September 2014. Of the sites looked at, only 18 of the 27 reviewed were up year-over-year.

In terms of luxury fashion, known for its cautiousness in adopting online practices, MediaRadar saw high-brands embracing new media formats.

Chanel, for instance, placed both native and online video ads in September 2015.

Chanel Cara mobile ad Vogue

Chanel video ad on Vogue placed July

The impending introduction of ad-blocking programs will directly affect digital advertising, but may be a relief for print marketers.

“Ad blocking and online fraud are both risks to online advertising, not print,” Mr. Krizelman said. “Should they grow significantly, the trend could actually help print ad sales.”

Is print's prime over?
Comparably to digital, 1,289 advertisers placed ads in the September 2015 print issues of women’s fashion publications. Ad pages decreased 2.3 percent among all books year-over-year.

September issues are notoriously crowded in terms of advertisements, forcing brands to jockey for the attention of fashionable readers as the seasons change from summer to fall, causing an overhaul of wardrobes.

Condé Nast-owned Vogue’s September issue is a newsstand favorite of the fashion-savvy and this year’s edition was no different, with the publication boasting on its front cover the “pages of wildly wonderful looks” by “forces of fashion” that are “redefining” the way consumers dress, but ad pages were down from last year’s book.


Vogue's cover for September 2015

According to Fashionista, publishers Condé Nast, Hearst and Time Inc. have collectively decided against releasing the advertising statistics of print ads sold for September issues. For this September’s Vogue issue, Fashionista counted 615.02 ads, down from the aforementioned 631 reported by the magazine a year ago (see story).

Despite publishers being tight-lipped on September’s ad statistics, MediaRadar is confident that print is not shrinking.

In its research, MediaRadar found that nine of the 20 print women’s fashion titles reviewed saw an increase in advertising. These titles saw an average increase of 15.1 percent.

Also, of the 11 titles that declined, two publications represented 55 percent of total drop. MediaRadar suggests that this is a reflection of a weak title, not a slowing market.

“Often people believe that all print titles perform the same,” Mr. Krizelman said. “But this is just not the case.

“Some publishers genuinely deliver a targeted audience that respond to the ads and so their advertisers are very pleased,” he said. “Many national publishers today offer a guaranteed lift in sales too. Meredith was first to offer this in 2012, later showing a 7x return on investment.

“Bottom line: Even with total ubiquity of the Internet, print still plays a valuable role in marketing campaigns.”

Final Take
Jen King, lead reporter on Luxury Daily, New York