Specialty mags on the rise

Just as specialty channels are stealing audience share from traditional television networks, so vertical-interest magazines are gaining ground on more general-interest titles, a recent study by PMB Print Measurement Bureau appears to confirm. Steve Ferley, president of the magazine readership research...

Just as specialty channels are stealing audience share from traditional television networks, so vertical-interest magazines are gaining ground on more general-interest

titles, a recent study by PMB Print Measurement Bureau appears to confirm.

Steve Ferley, president of the magazine readership research body, says while PMB 2000 shows a slight rise in overall readership, it has come almost exclusively in the area of specialty titles at the expense of some old stalwarts.

Some of the titles down this year include women’s magazines Canadian Living, Chatelaine, Homemakers and Flare; general interest publications Maclean’s, Reader’s Digest, Time and Toronto Life; and business books Report on Business Magazine, National Post Business (formerly Financial Post Magazine) and Profit. Readership of Canadian Business remained static.

Chris Herlihey, research manager with Toronto-based Initiative Media, says the results of PMB 2000 aren’t that much different from last year’s study.

‘Over the past few years, we’ve been seeing an overall decline in readership, especially on some of the women’s books and business books. There are exceptions, but that’s the general trend.

‘The interesting thing is that there are more vertical books coming into the market and their readership is growing. Canadian Home Workshop, Food & Drink, Canadian House & Home – they’re all up.’

Herlihey attributes the decline in general-interest readership to the fact that consumers are pressed for time and, as with television, are zeroing in on their specific interests.

And while he agrees that many of the big titles are down, he says he’s not so sure the numbers are statistically significant.

He says there are other market factors not necessarily reflected in the PMB study, such as increasing competition from U.S. magazines, as well as the wide range of publications available that PMB doesn’t measure.

‘It appears that overall magazine readership is shrinking, and maybe on a title-by-title basis it is, but the overall readership of magazines may not be,’ says Herlihey.

Greg Ramsay, research director for Toronto Life, says while it’s true readership of his magazine has been on the way down for the past few years, that’s been the case for most of the magazine’s major competitors. When that happens, he says, it doesn’t change the competitive landscape too much.

He points out that during this time, circulation numbers have remained constant, so it’s not clear whether there is a decline in general-interest readership or whether there’s a problem with PMB’s current methodology.

‘I don’t know how much weight anyone is putting on PMB 2000 results right now.

‘Everybody is really looking forward to the switch to ‘recent reading’ [survey methodology] in 2001. We’re all expecting to see higher numbers.’

Canada is the only country still using the ‘through-the-book’ methodology where respondents are shown a skeletonized version of each magazine, asked to flip through it, and then asked whether they have read that particular issue.

Critics of the methodology say the greater the number of publications included, the greater the danger respondents will skip magazines placed before them just to get to the end of the interview.

With recent reading methodology, respondents are simply shown the magazine’s logo and asked whether they’ve read an issue during a certain time period.

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.