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Ray of hope for magazines in digital era

Targeted audiences and websites can help magazines weather the onslaught of online competition

There is a ray of hope for magazines that do it right.

While print media continue to suffer at the hands of their online counterparts, new research from the University of Toronto Scarborough finds that print magazines with companion websites are able to attract more advertising dollars.

"Targeting is as important as ever," says Ambarish Chandra, Assistant Professor at UTSC's Department of Management. In a study of magazines in Germany, Prof. Chandra and Prof. Ulrich Kaiser of the University of Zurich found that magazines offering targeted advertising both in print and on the web can charge more from advertisers.

Magazines create interest around a specific topic, which attracts readers with similar interests. The more homogeneous the magazine's audience, the more attractive it is to advertisers looking to target a specific type of consumer.

And, it turns out, people who get their information from more than one medium - "multihomers", as Chandra and Kaiser call them - are particularly appealing to advertisers.

"You would think that advertisers would rather go after people who consume media from one source," says Prof. Chandra. Such people would be easier to find and to track.

But it turns out that the "multihomers" are more likely to see a brand's message more than once. "If they can reach you via print and online it's more likely that they can convince you to buy the product," says Prof. Chandra.

Magazines with websites will have the advantage over those that don't, because they will attract a homogeneous, targeted audience that will also be getting their information through more than one format. Such magazines can therefore charge more for their advertising space.

"It's very clear that circulation of print magazines in all markets has declined because of competition from the internet," says Prof. Chandra. "Magazines have to figure out how to embrace and integrate their print products with digital."

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Management Science.

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Dominic Ali | EurekAlert!
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