magazine subscriptions boom

Despite the COVID-19 disruption, UK magazine publishers are reporting triple-digit surges in new print and digital subscriptions.

Global digital partner, Jellyfish, has exclusive insight across the UK print and digital magazine subscription sector, as it not only owns magazine.co.uk, the leading magazine subscription website in the UK, and Pocketmags.com, the fast-growing international digital newsstand, but it also runs Paid Search and Paid Social campaigns for numerous publishers – including Hearst Magazines UK, Investors Chronicle (FT), TIME Europe and HELLO!.

Here, Carola York, Vice President, Publishing at Jellyfish explains what we’re seeing in the industry right now and offers her advice on how publishers can drive subscription performance and revenue during COVID-19.

Interest rose rapidly in the first week of lockdown and has been high ever since

With the UK population learning to live in confinement and more time set to be spent at home over the next few weeks, magazines are proving to be of huge interest. This is thanks to their ability to keep readers entertained, inspired and distracted – and, in some cases, help people learn a new skill or further develop an existing passion.

The first week of lockdown saw a huge increase in print magazine subscription page views, peaking at the end of March. Although volumes have fallen slightly since, they are still at significantly high levels.

Print subscriptions have been proving more popular than digital

Although uptake in digital magazine subscriptions has risen, interest in print subscriptions has risen by at least twice as much as digital since the start of lockdown.

All print magazine categories have shown significant increases in page views, with the biggest growth seen in Kids (an incredible 502%!), Home & Gardening (403%), and Women’s (325%). The Sports category has also seen improved performance – suggesting readers are still keen to keep up-to-date, despite no live sport taking place at the moment.

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Interestingly, the increase in demand for digital subscriptions is coming from different categories. Tech and Gaming have seen the biggest year-on-year increase so far (268%), followed by Family & Home (259%).

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How to run effective Paid Search and Paid Social subscription acquisition campaigns during lockdown

Although the stats demonstrate there’s a huge rise in interest in magazine subscriptions, you still need to make sure your brand is visible on the digital landscape. Running Paid Media campaigns is proving to be incredibly effective when it comes to subscription acquisition, but requires careful management and appropriate messaging to be truly successful.

Here are a few tips to consider when running a Paid Search campaign during lockdown:

  • People may still be looking for good value deals, but what’s more important at the moment is ensuring you call out your USPs in your ads – such as free delivery, or immediate and free access to a digital edition, if bundled with a print subscription.
  • Jellyfish is seeing far more users searching on their mobiles, so make sure the loading speed of the landing page you’re sending customers to is as fast as it can be. It’s also worth calling out mobile-specific USPs in your ads, such as one-click payment via Google or Apple Pay.
  • Trends around the time and day of the week people are searching and purchasing have changed since lockdown. Peaks you may previously have seen over workday lunchtimes,  the evening commute home or early evening hours have now shifted. Jellyfish is finding that users are buying throughout the day and even into the early hours of the morning, so check your data and review your bid adjustments accordingly.
  • While interest in magazine subscriptions remains high, now is the time to capitalise on the opportunity to boost subscription volumes, as well as build your brand profile and awareness. Jellyfish is finding Google Display Network’s Custom Affinity and Discovery Ads are working well – not only in generating good conversion volumes, but in terms of the positive impact they’re having on awareness, too.

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by What’s New in Publishing

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