Independent Media creates new marketing opportunities with niche magazines

Independent Media creates new marketing opportunities with niche magazines

Niche magazines provide original and extremely topic focussed content to their readers. SPORT magazine is the latest niche publication from Independent Media. With the main focus on providing exceptional content to premium subscribers, this raises the question: Are niche magazines the future of print marketing opportunities?

Target Media Directory spoke to the head of Independent Media's sport and motoring business unit, Jermaine Craig, about print media in South Africa.

Why is a niche magazine like SPORT valuable to sporting fans?

This niche magazine allowed us to spend a bit more time on researching and producing expert copy that gives readers more insights into the big sporting stories of the day.

We've always prided ourselves at Independent on having a high-quality sports writing team. The SPORT product gave us the opportunity to showcase all of them in one unique feature, which was well received as a good value-add to our long-time, loyal subscribers.

What opportunities does SPORT magazine offer marketers?

As a mainstream media house with a newspaper and magazine division, it was nice [for us] to offer marketers and advertisers the opportunity of cross-promotion on multiple platforms.

There was a strong, engaged, loyal audience that we were guaranteed to reach via our subscriber base. We also extensively promoted the magazine in all our national newspaper titles and reproduced content on multiple print and online platforms.

So for us it was an opportunity to merge the editorial, design and sales strengths of our newspaper and magazine divisions – something we had not done significantly before. We're very happy with the initial outcome and the value provided to both marketers and readers.

How do you ensure that the content you publish remains relevant in an industry as fast-paced as sport?

Our investment is in quality sports journalists and writers who are very adept at the concept of a timeless, 'lean-back' read. And for the inaugural SPORT edition, things worked out extremely well for us.

Having a 'magazine' team working with a 'newspaper' team provided good editorial knowledge and the ability to think on our feet.

In our latest edition, we opted for the cover feature with a timeless piece on World Cup legacies Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Even though they were both knocked out early, this was the defining story at the outset of the FIFA World Cup.

We [initially planned] a feature on how important AB De Villiers would be to the Proteas during the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, but this turned into a 'tribute' following his announcement of his international retirement.

So yes, it's difficult to remain fresh and relevant with magazines and their long lead times, but for this project, experience and the flexibility to change to ensure the best possible read worked out well.

I'm proud, and confident, to say that anyone picking up a copy even months after publication would still find value in a quality, timeless read.

How does covering an event like the FIFA World Cup help you to target committed readers and advertisers?

Naturally, it's a massive event and an unmissable opportunity as we've opted to publish themed quarterly editions. Commercial considerations are important, so we timed our launch with the FIFA World Cup to capitalise on the global hype around this.

Of course, providing a good fit and value to advertisers was extremely important. This remains a strong editorial product. It provides much-needed and appreciated value to newspaper subscribers, who have remained loyal to our proud titles for many years.

Is there a difference between the people who subscribe to your regular publications and those who look for the more niche magazines?

Our Conde Nast publications such as GQ, Glamour and House & Garden are well-established brands with well-defined audiences, while recent exciting additions to our offering, such as Fast Company, Intrepid Explorer and African Independent, also have a big role to play.

Both audiences are equally important, and we're excited at the chance of offering advertisers and readers more value across our newspaper and magazine portfolios by better harnessing our collective strengths.

For us, SPORT remains an important niche vertical. And [our] audience is crucial to our product offering. As big corporates continue to invest considerable resources in their sponsorship of football, rugby, cricket, athletics, etc., there's definitely a job to be done in servicing sports readers and the commercial audience with quality products.

What future do you think niche magazines have in the consumer market?

We know magazines are a costly proposition to produce, but we still believe print has a strong future. [Especially] when merged with digital and multimedia offerings, which we've long been working on.

If costs and resources can be effectively managed, as we have done with SPORT and with our WOMEN IN SPORT edition, I do believe niche magazines have an important role to play in media houses' broader product mix and will continue to be successful.

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With Target Media Directory you can access the details of specialist publications. Read more about some of our prominent media titles in our article, South African soccer magazines: It’s all about fans.