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Magazine Special 2012: Column: Magazines are here to stay

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Annurag Batra

Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, Pitch

Every time I pass a newsstand or flip through the pages of a magazine, my mind raises the same question. Are they nearing extinction? Is the print world on its way to being swept away by the digital age?

And not withstanding the iPad in one hand and the iPhone in the other, my answer to my thoughts is always a firm no.

My belief that the value of magazines has not diminished in today’s digital age finds resonance with the findings of a recent Engagement Survey by the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM). According to the qualitative research by Quantum and the subsequent quantitative survey of 3600 respondents across 10 cities in India by IMRB, magazines have a deeper connect with people than most media.

Reading magazines is a highly intimate and an immersive experience. It is a relaxed, leisurely activity; a lean back medium and it does not demand immediate consumption. My thoughts are echoed by 66 percent people in the survey who say they turn to magazines as a relaxation tool. There is always the joy of serendipity, of chance discoveries while flipping through the pages of a magazine.

They capture the undivided attention of the audience and hold it like no other medium. Consumer involvement is at its highest while reading a magazine, even greater than during watching television or listening to radio. 87 per cent of those surveyed by AIM Engagement study reveal that they do nothing else while reading a magazine.

This explains why this medium enjoys one of the highest purchase intent based on the ads. Magazines ads are not a painful, unwarranted interruption in your reading; they are something that readers willingly expose themselves to. It provides value to both readers and advertisers. The MPA- Factbook of 2011-2012, brought out by The Association of Magazine Media  points out that advertising recall for magazines has grown by 11% in the last 5 years. It ranks magazines as the first out of 16 media having relatively high consumer trust when it comes to advertisements. As per the AIM Engagement Survey, the advertisement avoidance for magazines at 12 per cent is the lowest for any media in the country.

Printed magazines enjoy a special place as a niche medium. Special-interest magazines catering to a specific clientele have been seeing an impressive growth in India. Certain product categories like business, finance, cars, and automobiles have been witnessing a sustained and loyal readership. The Engagement Survey puts magazines as one of the preferred sources of information for categories like beauty, travel, home décor, finance, and automobiles. The slew of international magazines coming to the Indian shore are a clear indication of the potential growth.

Magazines are certainly not going through a slow torturous death that many foresee as the print medium’s eventual future, but are instead remorphing themselves. Publishers are slowly realising that they need to move beyond print into other platforms like the digital space and mobiles. Digital magazine formats expand the reach of the printed versions and are able to tap tech-savvy consumers. Some of the biggest brands in the magazine industry are heading down the dual path of e-readers and tablets.  A study by media research firm, Affinity undertook a survey in 2011 and asked people if they read more magazines that they used to, in both print and electronic form. 46 per cent people responded with a yes.

Moreover, digital magazine stores like Zinio, Magzter and other digital newsstand applications for mobiles and tablets have eased their accessibility and reach thereby facilitating more readerships.

In my opinion therefore, it is too soon to write off and bid farewell to the world of magazines. Even while some may question their future and deem them passé, no one can deny the power of the written word.

About the author / 

Rahul Sharma

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