Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cultural History of Magazines

Magazines were truly America’s first national mass medium, and like books they served as an important force in social change.  The mass circulation magazine grew with the nation. Between 1900 and 1945, the number of families who subscribed to one or more magazines grew from 200,000 to more than 32 million.  New and important magazines continued to appear throughout the decades. 

Magazine industry research indicates that among people with at least some college, 94% read at least one magazine and average more than 11 different issues a month.  Nearly the same figures apply for households with annual incomes of over $40,000 and for people in professional and managerial careers, regardless of educational attainment.  The typical magazine reader is at least high school graduate, is married, owns his or her own house, is employed full time, and has an annual household income of just under $40,000.  Advertisers find magazine readers an attractive, upscale audience for their pitches.

How people use magazines also makes them an attractive advertising medium.  People report: Reading magazines as much for the ads as for the editorial content, keeping them available for up to four months, passing them along to an average of four similar adults, and being very loyal, which translates into increased esteem for those advertisers in the pages of their favorite publications.  In 1950 there were 6,950 magazines in operation exceeding 22,000 in 2002, 12,000 of those being general interest consumer magazines.  Of these, 800 produce three-fourths of the industry’s gross revenues.  Ten new magazine titles are launched every week (Magazine Publishers of America, 2000). 

Magazine specialization exists and succeeds because the demographically similar readership of these publications is attractive to advertisers who wish to target ads for their products and services to those most likely to respond to them.

Introduction to Mass Communication
Media Literacy and Culture
Second Edition
Stanley J. Baran

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