Industry Advertisers Discuss Changing Publications Market

The shutdown of so many scrapbook industry magazines in recent months (Digital Scrapbooking, Simple Scrapbooking, and Memory Makers) affects more than just editors and designers who work for those magazines. It also affects advertisers who use those publications as advertising outlets, and who must now search for a replacement method to use to get their message to consumers. Since many industry advertisers already use most or all of the scrapbook magazines as an advertising outlet, replacing the lost ad outlet is often not as simple as just picking a new publication to commit to buying ad space in.

Scrapbook Update solicited comment from some of the industry advertisers affected by the changing publications landscape in scrapbooking. Two advertisers in scrapbooking publications had very interesting viewpoints on what the closed publications mean for advertising. [Michaels Stores declined comment for this story.]

One of those advertisers is a scrapbook company: Online retailer Addicted to Scrapbooking is the largest non-newspaper scrapbook advertiser. SLR lens manufacturer Tamron, on the other hand, is from outside of the scrapbook industry but has a large advertising interest in scrapbookers because of their enthusiasm for photography. Despite their different perspectives from inside and outside the scrapbook market, both companies share strikingly similar visions of the future of scrapbook advertising.

If the advertising dollars displaced from the closed magazines migrate to other publications, the consolidation would strengthen those publications and the industry in general. David Kovanen, president of Addicted to Scrapbooking, sees such a consolidation as sorely needed in many areas of the industry :

Scrapbooking was in an unhealthy industry situation years ago. Our senior management discussed this back in 2006 and 2007. It was over-distributed in every possible way. There were over 400 online web sites selling scrapbooking supplies. It was obvious back then that a consolidation would occur. So we have been preparing and planning for this time now, and that has allowed us to not been shocked by what is happening.

The great risk that the scrapbooking industry faces is “implosion.” So many publications are on the edge of starvation, and so many companies are struggling that too many may fail all at once. That would be an unhealthy thing in the long run. What needs to happen is that everything needs to become “right sized.” A city may have seven scrapbooking stores. It would be bad if all of them failed in the same month. The better answer is that three of them survive and be strong and continue. But for this to happen, the weaker organizations need to recognize reality before the end so that they can preserve their capital while allowing
the stronger ones to continue.

Unfortunately, in the case of Tamron, their ad dollars from Memory Makers will not be moving elsewhere. Stacie Errera, the Chief Marketing Office of Tamron USA, told Scrapbook Update last week that her budget had been cut before Memory Makers was discontinued and space in Memory Makers was one of the cuts that had to be made. Cuts to overall marketing budgets such as Tamron’s are becoming widespead in all industries and are widely considered a secondary cause (along with the primary cause of a shift to internet content & advertising models) of the paper publishing industry’s ongoing collapse.

Addicted to Scrapbooking’s Kovanen says that their advertising budget is set as a percentage of their sales and so “The loss of one publication won’t affect our total advertising budget at all.” He notes that “We advertise in magazines as well as other media, both traditional and electronic. To be effective in advertising requires saturation, repetition, and targeting. So we are not dependent upon any specific channel, nor should we.” In fact, Kovanen points out that having fewer publications to cover to reach saturation coverage can have benefits for advertisers:

The closure of industry publications will mean change. Some organizations which are rigid in their thinking may see this as a negative, but it may also open doors for us as we are able to concentrate our message and diversify into new media. There were so many scrapbooking magazines that it was always difficult to get full coverage because like every organization, our budget is limited.

Kovanen’s mention of new media is echoed by Tamron’s Errera when she says the company will be focusing more in the future on pursuing the digital scrapbooking audience as a market for its camera gear: “…most of that will take place online outside of traditional scrap websites and magazines, e.g., advertising on software, fonts, kits, actions developers, blogs, etc. that cater to d-scrappers.” She goes on to say that Tamron is thinking far outside of print in its marketing efforts. “I am relying on different
ways to get to people–face to face events and workshops as well as online advert[is]ing and enewsletters.”

Food for thought: With the advent of new media advertising and fewer print publications, scrapbook advertising (and the industry as a whole) is changing fast. The history of Addicted to Rubber Stamps, a sister division of Addicted to Scrapbooking, may hold a lesson about the future path of scrapbooking. There are marked similarities now between the scrapbook market and the rubber stamp market of almost 10 years ago. That may sound scary but it doesn’t necessarily have to be negative, according to Kovanen:

We have been through this type of change in the past and understand it. Our “Addicted To Rubber Stamps” brand was in the great rubber stamping shake-out of 1999-2001. Back then, rubber stamping was as big as scrapbooking was and it had numerous dedicated publications. Today, there are no dedicated publications at all. Times change. But our Addicted To Rubber Stamps division does far better today than it did in 2001. It has adapted and evolved. It survived the shake-out and has a strong, loyal, smart customer base. And of course we continue to advertise Addicted To Rubber Stamps heavily via other channels.

Scrapbook Update would like to thank David Kovanen of Addicted to Scrapbooking and Stacie Errera of Tamron USA for sharing their thoughts on this important issue.

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