Events distorted Mag data

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AUCKLAND, Today: The NZ magazine sector found plenty to cheer about in the latest Nielsen magazine toplines – despite rough year-on-year results for many top titles.

The raw data, which covered only the year 2020, was released Friday, and could never claim to be an accurate reflection of what’s currently happening in the marketplace.

2020 was a calamitous year which included the full blast of the Covid effect, the astonishing exit of Bauer (and the revival of key ex-Bauer titles), plus the launch of many brand-new titles, including a completely original portfolio from Stanley St’s School Road Publishing.

The newspaper sector was far more stable – and the Nielsen YOY results strongly reflected this.

Magazine Publishers Association executive director Sally Duggan put the Nielsen in context. 

“Fact is, the bald topline readership figures do not tell the full story about mags at the moment, for a couple of reasons,” she said.

“They reflect an entirely anomalous past year when magazines were banned from publishing for some months and many titles missed issues or went online.

“The bald data, which covered only 2020 could never claim to be an accurate reflection of what’s happening in the marketplace today.”

“They are also affected by a change in methodology introduced around April, when Nielsen dropped face-to-face interviews – which traditionally favoured magazines – in favour of more online and panel interviews.

“The real picture of mag performance is more positive, with strong sales and evidence of deepening engagement.

“Early results from Tony Edwards at Ovato Retail – NZ’s sole distributor of magazines to retail outlets – show a 5.5% increase in sales during the last quarter of 2020 [Ovato Retail data, Q4 2020].

“The MPA’s deeper dive into the Nielsen readership results shows that the valuable primary readership – those who subscribed or purchased their own magazines, and are traditionally considered most important to advertisers – was up 11% YOY Q1 2020-Q4 2020.

“The topline numbers you [Nielsen] quoted are dragged down by big drops in the tertiary readership particularly; these are the magazines that people read in places like cafes, hotels and doctors waiting rooms – understandably down in a year where Kiwis weren’t out and about as much).

“These results tally with publisher reports I’m hearing a lot of record subs numbers.

Reading time increased
“The same set of Nielsen data also reports big increases in reading time across the magazine category: up from 99 minutes to 130 minutes.”

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