Making a case for magazine advertising in Singapore: From Awareness to Action


[This article first appears in INMA Media Research blog, July 2014]


Two questions

How do I tell if my magazine ad works? Why should I include magazines in my overall media plan?

These two questions lie at the heart of the magazine industry today as they continue to plague brand owners, ad agencies and publishers.

The first question is an accountability question. It is a perennial issue, once again thrust under the limelight as media options grow exponentially and the quest to choose the right medium that gives maximum returns becomes more challenging.

In Singapore, the existing print industry metric—readership—no longer suffice. Title readership does not connote ad viewership within, and the wide range of print ad options means that some ads are likely to be more memorable than others even within the same issue. To justify advertisers’ return on investment, we need a rigorous measurement tool that zooms into ad-level analysis.

The second question is a role question. Magazine needs to define its role in brand owners’ media plans to help the latter develop integrated cross-media strategies that optimize the strengths of each medium. There were incorrect assumptions that magazines are only effective on top of the sales funnel, namely for branding and awareness-generation purposes, but perform poorly in driving consumers into actions. What can magazine advertising do to push brands up their value chain—from awareness to action?


Justifying the place of magazines in marketers’ media repertoire

To plug this knowledge gap, SPH Magazines collaborated with GfK Singapore on a study that seeks to justify advertisers’ magazine ROI and, along the way, understand readers’ relationship with magazines. This is the first study in Singapore that employs GfK StarchMetrix, a global measurement standard to understand print advertisement.

The study looked at the December 2013 issue of 10 key women’s lifestyle magazines in Singapore and analysed a total of 874 ads in the monthlies. It garnered a robust response rate of over 3500 readers, screened on title and copy readership. These readers were then measured on their brand perceptions, advertising attentiveness and advertising responses, specifically actions taken upon noting the ad.

Women lifestyle magazines SG


Magazines are highly engaging and trusted as a source of information

By looking closely at readers’ reading behaviour, the study reaffirms that magazines offer two main value propositions. Firstly, magazines as a medium commands high consumer engagement. This is measured by two metrics- time spent reading and extent of reading. In this Singapore study, we find that an average reader spends some 49 minutes reading magazine, with almost 50% respondents reading more than half of the magazine.

Reading behav

These readers are not merely browsing dispassionately. They perceive magazines content to be valuable, trustworthy and highly relevant to their lifestyle. In fact, on average, some 60% readers consider the content of magazines to be valuable sources of new information.

What is even more interesting is the fact that Singapore readers perceive magazines’ ads to be almost as valuable as editorial. On average, 63% respondents deem articles to be valuable and 60% agree that they are trustworthy, signifying a high confidence in magazines’ editorial credibility. In comparison, ads receptivity only trails slightly behind, with 61% readers considering them valuable and 58% trustworthy.

SG Readers perception of magazines


Magazines command readers’ attention, leading to high conversion/action

Secondly, and building on its strengths of being engaging and trustworthy, magazines lend itself readily as a medium for brands to command readers’ attention and, with the right trigger, converts this attentiveness to action.

The study found that on average, a magazine advertisement is remembered by 58% respondents (“ad noting score”), and out of them, 72% respondents take specific actions after seeing the ad (“actions taken score”). These figures compare favourably against magazines’ performance in the United States, where 52% readers take note of ads, out of which 62% take follow up actions. In this context, “actions” range from looking up more info about the brand, recommending the particular product/service to others, to actually purchasing them.

Ad noting and actions taken score


Magazines is perhaps the only medium in which ads are consumed, even welcomed, by readers as an integral aspect of the medium’s message. This further underscores the importance of executing magazine ad campaigns optimally to reap the maximum impact- be it in terms of positive brand disposition or actual sales uplift.  How do we do this?

In the next part of this article, we curate for you a list of best practices in print magazine advertising in Singapore’s women lifestyle titles.  Stay tuned.

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SPH Magazines is committed to producing research-driven insights that add value to our advertisers and agencies partners. For further clarification, please contact SPH Magazines Insights and Intelligence Unit.

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