LONDON: The UK’s three leading consumer magazine publishers all saw total average circulations decline in the first half of 2018, but observers have suggested that there are grounds for optimism in the latest ABC data.

The figures now break out the total of actively purchased copies from the total copies circulated (which includes paid for and free copies ), with media owners and buyers regarding the latter figure as a more comprehensive representation of market scale.

Bauer Media registered as the UK’s biggest selling magazine publisher, with 70.4m total reported copies circulated during the period. This translated to an average of 3.03m across its titles, a 3% dip year-on year.

Among the big three, TI Media (formerly Time Inc) saw the steepest year-on-year fall in average circulation, 11% to 2.75m, while Hearst was down 8% to 2.5m, Campaign reported, and all three saw their actively purchased circulation decline at the same rate as their total circulation.

Despite some particularly dramatic falls – actively purchased circulation of Cosmopolitan, the Hearst-owned women’s lifestyle magazine, plunged 28% after it doubled its cover price – publishers and agencies were generally encouraged by the picture that emerged.

“A modest [overall] decline of 5% in total print circulation is accompanied by a sizeable increase in the online circulation for consumer magazines,” pointed out Sue Todd, CEO of Magnetic, adding that “demand for highly trusted, curated, quality content is still satisfied by print but increasingly served in many other ways”.

And Graham Martin, head of publishing at Total Media, observed that The Economist, which saw its year-on-year total (print and digital) rise almost 8%, has been working to grow its youth audiences by embracing platforms like Snapchat to reach teens and Instagram to reach 18-34s.

“This tells us that magazines are not a declining medium among youth audiences,” he told Mediatel.

“If a brand is able to understand audience behaviour, what they want to read (usually high quality, in depth content about specialist areas) and reach them where they are, it can perform exceptionally, even in an age when many point to the duopoly heralding the end for publishers,” he said.

Sourced from ABC, Campaign, Mediatel; additional content by WARC staff