C&SC's readers survey on marketing/publicity

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Mario Laguna
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Joined: 2011-08-29

What C&SC's readers get for their money when buying it in terms of editorial contents/paid advertising ratio?
The January 2014 issue has 268 pages of which:

Editorial contents: 105,5 pages (39,36%)

Paid advertising: 162,5 pages (60,63%).

Let's say advertising is vital for the survival of any commercial printed paper.
The prestigious US Automobile Quarterly which was a zero publicity supported magazine didn't survive, in spite of its outstanding editorial contents.
Let's also say that car-related advertisements are frequently worth reading, informative and useful.
But, what percentage of publicity in a classic magazine is advisable to avoid the risk of becoming a yellow pages guide?

 

PaulJ
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Joined: 2011-06-01

Hi Mario,

I guess it does look a little odd when you state the figures like that, but I do like drooling over the ads anyway, so in the main they tend not to annoy me.  The exception to that is the rise of the 'Advertisement Feature', which looks like a real article until you notice the small print.

 

Happy new year, and don't buy anything you didn't mean to!

fergieswatchmaker
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Joined: 2011-12-03

Mario, are you suggesting that there is too much advertising in the magazine?

The standard of advertising in C&SC is generally very high and can, as you rightly suggest, be quite useful; I am sure that most of us keep an eye on dealers' asking prices, for example.

I don't find the advertising too intrusive, to be honest, so I look at it this way: Does C&SC provide a healthy level of diverse and quality editorial for my £11 per quarter? For this reader the answer is a resounding 'yes'!

Chris Leopold

 

 

 

Chris Martin
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Joined: 2011-08-20

I am sure over the years the advertising content has grown, but that is the way of things these days.  It is also necessary to help produce a quality magazine.  I doubt Haymarket would be able sell the magazine for it's cover price if it was just the editorial content, last time I heard the cover price is just to cover distribution and allow a small profit for the newsagent or shopkeeper. As others have pointed out, the advertising is usually interesting in itself, a lot of nice cars well photographed, but for when I am not in the mood for window shopping I can skip past it easily enough.

It is those 105.5 pages that I buy it for, if the rest helps subsidise that, keep it up.

Automobile Quarterly was a fine example of how to do it the other way, no ads, expensive to buy, $100 a year for 4 books last time I renewed my overseas subs, and now it has gone 'tits up' !  (They still owe me $75 !)

We would not want C&SC to go that route would we?

Chris M.

 

James Elliott
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The thing to bear in mind is that, if reader demand forced C&SC to take action on any perceived imbalance between advertising and editorial pages, it would probably result in no more editorial pages, it is just going to mean fewer advertising pages and a smaller magazine overall.

Fewer advertising pages would in turn have an impact on the overall annual number of editorial pages, especially the "specials" and supplements that we do over the course of a year.

Personally, I don't care how many pages of adverts there are because they are all car porn to me - so a surfeit of them is just a sort of sexy bonus. And many others think the same. In fact, I would be terrified to know how many of the readers actually only look at the adverts and don't even read the editorial!

 

n/a
James Elliott
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Chris Martin wrote:

Automobile Quarterly was a fine example of how to do it the other way, no ads, expensive to buy, $100 a year for 4 books last time I renewed my overseas subs, and now it has gone 'tits up' !  (They still owe me $75 !)

We would not want C&SC to go that route would we?

Chris M.

Funnily enough, I do think there is a market for an Automobile Quarterly-style C&SC with few adverts, but loads of 20-30 page features that we simply don't have the space to do in the magazine. I've done the numbers on what it would cost to produce, however, and price-wise it would be even more exclusive than AQ!

n/a
Chris Martin
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James Elliott wrote:

Chris Martin wrote:

Automobile Quarterly was a fine example of how to do it the other way, no ads, expensive to buy, $100 a year for 4 books last time I renewed my overseas subs, and now it has gone 'tits up' !  (They still owe me $75 !)

We would not want C&SC to go that route would we?

Chris M.

Funnily enough, I do think there is a market for an Automobile Quarterly-style C&SC with few adverts, but loads of 20-30 page features that we simply don't have the space to do in the magazine. I've done the numbers on what it would cost to produce, however, and price-wise it would be even more exclusive than AQ!

That was my point James.  

You think there is a market, I hoped there was, but not enough people were willing to pay for it.  

A fantastic publication employing the best writers to produce in-depth articles with best quality print in a hardback landscape format four times a year was never going to be cheap. 

I have a complete run of over 50 years, except for the penultimate issue which never arrived.  Apparently they only had just over 5,000 subscribers at the end, and with their refusal to take advertising they could not survive on that.  Of the few readers that were left, how many would have willingly paid more to keep it going ?  It seems we will never know.

C&SC had better keep going as it is; it has been going over thirty years, established itself as the best, and if the advertising has increased in content it not only shows the strength of the classic car market, but hopefully keeps the bean counters at Haymarket Pubs happy.

Meanwhile, if James and myself check the spare change in the piggy-bank, and maybe Mario can come up with a few quid, I understand the remains of AQ could still be for sale and relaunched............

Chris M.

 

 

Mario Laguna
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Joined: 2011-08-29

Hi all,
In the beginning I thought this thread could be interesting for a good deal of readers, but I am overwhelmed by your warm reactions.

Hello Paul, Happy New Year to you too.
"don't buy anything you didn't mean to!"
- I won't.
"The exception to that is the rise of the 'Advertisement Feature', which looks like a real article until you notice the small print"
- If you don't mind, we treat it like a possible lack of independence, but only as a possibility, not as a matter of fact (yet).
If the Editor chooses the car, the place and the words, it is OK, I don't mind the yellow tag. On the contrary, I hope some day Martin Buckley travels to Spain for a 10-Pegaso road test.
The risk of conflict of interest, however, still exists.
For instance, look at the December issue: Porsche 911 at 50.
I am a long term 911 fan and driver, so, in my view we need a special C&SC 911 feature once a year, not once each half a century. Not extra Porsche 911 pages will ever be enough.
But this is only my personal opinion. Let's try to be objective.
First thing we notice in the December issue is a huge Porsche paid advertisement on pages 3-4, plus two full more pages inside. Was it a coincidence?
Would C&SC have made a special 911 issue without any Porsche paid support at all?
The featured roo-bar 911 is for sale (as is frequently the case for other interesting featured cars). Would C&SC feature other equally outstanding 911s which are not for sale?
I think so, but more and more advertising will inevitably create a more important degree of editorial dependence.
This phenomenon is not exclusive for car magazines.

***********

Hello Leopold,
"Mario, are you suggesting that there is too much advertising in the magazine?"
- If you read again my comments you'll see I didn't (yet).
But I fear a certain risk for it.
"I don't find the advertising too intrusive, to be honest"
Neither do I.
As I am interested in the classic market, I notice the main C&SC advertisers are the big world Auctioneers. As the market blooms, multi-page Auction adverts are not rare any more.
Is it a sort of compensation a strong monthly editorial contents for auction results? If it is, I don't mind, as it is one of my favourite reading each month. But will the Auctioneers become an important lobby inside C&SC and other car magazines?

************

Hello Chris,
"I doubt Haymarket would be able sell the magazine for it's cover price if it was just the editorial content"
- There is not doubt at all, but my idea is finding a fair balance for publishers and readers alike.
For it, I thing the readers' views should be appreciated by Haymarket.
"We would not want C&SC to go that route would we?"
- Of course not.

*****************

Hello James,
"The thing to bear in mind is that, if reader demand forced C&SC to take action on any perceived imbalance between advertising and editorial pages, it would probably result in no more editorial pages, it is just going to mean fewer advertising pages and a smaller magazine overall".
That's true. As you used the "imbalance" notion, that is the main goal of this discussion, not to get out of balance.
Too little advertising will kill any printed magazine. Too much I guess will be negative too.
What is too little or too much, I don't know, honest, but can we try to find it out?
"I've done the numbers on what it would cost to produce, however, and price-wise it would be even more exclusive than AQ!"
- I've also done the numbers for a more much modest publication and without a substantial advertising support it cannot be done.
But the point is not some advertising or not at all, but how much advertising.

*************

"Meanwhile, if James and myself check the spare change in the piggy-bank, and maybe Mario can come up with a few quid, I understand the remains of AQ could still be for sale and relaunched"

Chris, I am in.

For the moment, please allow me the same exercise with the yet to arrive February issue.

 

Pre 80s TVR
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At present the balance seems pretty much spot on, plenty of editorial and the adverts are relevant and of a high standard. I am not sure at what point I would be concerned that they had grown too much, as long as the editorial stays at the same level and quality is maintained it would need to be a big increase in advertising before I would get annoyed.

I would also like to see the adverts kept to classic motoring, if I wished to buy a speed boat/Rolex/condo in the Caymans/racehorse etc. I would buy a specialist magazine. I doubt I will ever buy a Ferrari DB4GTZ Type 35, but it is nice to scan the ads when I've had a hard day at work and dream.

What is interesting, now that Mario has mentioned it, is the way the balance of advertising has shifted over the last 10 years. Lots of glossy dealer adverts now and very few classified (and these are often dealer ads for cars which have been for sale for ages). Such is the progress of Ebay and t'internet.

Oliver

TVR Car Club Pre80s Editor

Morgan
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Joined: 2012-01-19

I often think I spend more time reading the ads than I do the editorial, so lets keep them going I say. The one thing that does annoy me though, and encourages me to skip over an ad, is the lack of prices. How are we supposed to keep up with things if the advertisers are too coy to quote a price - even if it is only a guide.

Oh! and another thing - when will C&SC devote less time to the American market and concentrate more on Europe. The former is far away and out of reach of most UK residents whilst Europe is on our doorstep and, certain countries excluded, has a thriving Classic Car scene which most of us are unaware of.

Chris Martin
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Joined: 2011-08-20

Morgan wrote:

Oh! and another thing - when will C&SC devote less time to the American market and concentrate more on Europe. The former is far away and out of reach of most UK residents whilst Europe is on our doorstep and, certain countries excluded, has a thriving Classic Car scene which most of us are unaware of.

I am not sure that thinking really applies any more. 

Like it or not, although produced in a shed in Teddington, C&SC is now a world-wide publication and caters for it's readers in Argentina, Thailand as well as the Brits.  The advertisers would not be paying for space if they were not reaching their buyers.  The world has become much more accessible than ever before, and trends in one market will now be reflected elsewhere.

Obviously if one is looking for a Morris Minor for under a grand then it makes sense that you look as close to home as possible, and the same applies to a European looking for a Beetle, or an American seeking a Model T, but the real price of a Ferrari Daytona, a Bugatti Brescia, or even a more humble Chevrolet Z-28 is now dictated by the world market, the only variables being the constantly fluctuating currency exchange rates.

For example, until a couple of months ago the Australian Dollar was one of the strongest, and there had been a constant flow of classic Mustangs being shipped over from California to meet a strong demand here, but as the Aus Dollar is losing out now, any upward trend in Mustang prices in the USA will stop, or possibly even reverse that trend.  On another tack, I still fancy a 'Pagoda' roof Mercedes SL, but the only way I could afford one now is to import a LHD one from California.

No, if the magazine is to report on any market trends or values of classics then it has to monitor all world markets, and as the USA has always been one of the biggest markets for consumer goods, and therefore home to a large supply of classics it will continue to have a disproportionate representation.

At least the various sections of the magazine are well laid out such that is easy enough to sklp anything that does not interest.

Chris M.