September Fashion is In Season—In August
Video is impacting categorical share, but not a lot.
The great “video pivot” in digital media—as much touted as it is mocked for being cliché—gets encouragement from an audience expansion in August of 46.8% year-over-year. Indeed, video is the only overall area of raw audience expansion among digital channels, as we see desktop reach contract by 10.2% YoY in the August Magazine Media 360 Brand Audience Report. Even mobile audience appears to be contracting.
Since video is on everyone’s mind, it’s important to drill into both usage and ad-spend trends here. The shift to streaming media makes raw audience metrics less revealing perhaps than time. According to one of the best media forecasters, Zenith, worldwide video consumption on digital channels should be up by about 20%. The average viewing time per day and per user will grow from 39.6 minutes in 2016 to 47.4 minutes in 2017. Keep this in mind: these impressive metrics are inflated by lean- back sources like Netflix and Hulu. But the expansion of digital video viewing is being driven largely by portability, that is smartphone video use, which will grow 35% to 28.8 minutes per day. Video ad spend will represent 31% of spend on digital display by 2019, up from 21% in 2012.
To see how this trend is being fully realized we need not look any further than the month of August, where digital activity for the women’s beauty and fashion category foreshadowed the traditional September blockbuster issues that were released that month.
In terms of overall 360-degree audience market share there has been some movement over the last year. Condé Nast’s Vogue is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year with a number of digital initiatives and support for a massive September issue. And the venerable brand appears to have momentum. Online Vogue.com properties saw a -13.1% pull back in desktop YoY in August, offset considerably by a 22.8% growth of mobile audience and 170.3% spike in video reach. The Vogue brand also increased its overall share of the category share, up from 17% last year to 20% this year.
A number of notable videos have been celebrating the Vogue anniversary, such as celebrities (Cindy Crawford, Jennifer Aniston and others) reflecting on when they heard the news of making their first cover. And of course the behind-the-scenes story of Jennifer Lawrence’s striking September cover shoot. The clip includes little Vogue tidbits like Lawrence getting a tad seasick. And we must confess we never knew that Vogue has a selfie make-up artist who specializes in making sure the magazine staff look good for their celebrity selfie posts.
While Time Inc.’s InStyle (-25% desktop, -41.5% mobile, +18.9% Video) was down two points in market share for the beauty and fashion vertical, its September content proved a big win on social and in the press. Site director Ruthie Friedlander tells min, “InStyle is unique. We’re grateful and so lucky to have an editor-in-chief who thinks as much about digital strategy as she does print. That’s rare. For our September issue, it was a win-win for both of us. We had the most followed celebrity on Instagram [Selena Gomez] as our cover star. We couldn’t ask for anything more than that. But we got so much more. We got exclusive digital behind the scenes content, we got videos for on-site and social… and that’s just with the cover. Some of our best performers for the month were from our in-book features: Roxanne Gay’s piece on Sexual Fantasy and Laura Dern’s letter to her daughter. In addition to them being such great pieces, the fact that our writers (who also happen to be celebs) ‘social’ed’ the stories to their networks, helped from a visibility perspective.”
W (-58.3% desktop, -1.8% mobile, +4% video) led with a collector’s edition September issue. Cover celeb Katy Perry got the full AR treatment via a downloadable “Beyond the Page” app. W crafted channel-specific promotions for the project, such as a cover preview clip on Instagram (over 77,000 views) and other demos of the AR enhancements for the issue.
One important note in closing, the MM360 metrics this year are depressed overall by methodology adjustments made earlier this year to filter out more fraudulent traffic. By early 2018 we will be back to an apples-to-apples YoY comparison.