Print circulations are falling – except in exceptional circumstances – across the board, with figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation seeing a double-digit YOY fall in average circulation per issue across the board. Hardest hit are magazines in the consumer industry, particularly those whose content is news-led or whose articles are easily replicable online for free.
But, if you absolutely have to be in the print market, you want to be in the luxury print market. British GQ, for instance, has a smaller print circulation than InStyle did when it shut its print production – 107k on average per issue in 2016, compared to 126k per issue in 2006 – but is still looking relatively healthy because of its status as a luxury publication. I mentioned that Vogue charges around £36,000 per print ad on a specified page per issue, for instance. For GQ, then, for whom the vast majority of revenue is still through print ads, that (relatively small, actually) fall in print circulation is ameliorated by a still healthy advertising model.
There are a few reasons why that should be the case. For one, despite digital advertising being relatively mature at this point but with plenty of room still to grow, there are questions around its effectiveness and – crucially – its safety. For brands who are happy to drop tens of thousands regularly, upholding their luxury reputation is a key priority.