Why lad’s mag websites are beating the media gloom
After Michael Gove, shadow secretary for education, attacked lads’ magazines for their supposedly corrupting influence earlier this week, the industry needed a good news story.
Yesterday’s announcement that the online version of IPC Media’s lads’ mag Nuts had doubled its audience in a year was just the ticket.
In June, 1.4m unique users (web speak for individual people) visited Nuts.co.uk, up a staggering 121 per cent on the same period in 2007. IPC’s more sophisticated men’s website, Loaded.co.uk, also posted a respectable 51 per cent increase, upping its uniques to 311,610.
Print In Decline
These figures will give a much-needed boost to Time Warner-owned IPC, especially as sales of printed lads’ mags are plummeting. Nuts fell by almost 9 per cent year on year in its latest results, while Loaded fared even worse, shedding around 43,000 copies in just 12 months. Although printed paid-for magazines are experiencing general decline, these numbers are particularly bad; overall, sales of IPC’s magazines fell by just 3.6 per cent in the same period.
The secret to the success of Nuts.co.uk is not rocket science. Its editor Keith Walker has aped all the internet mega-brands, like Facebook and YouTube, and used the same methods to deliver the magic lads’ mag formula: girls, gadgets and sport.
Instead of a photo-shoot of Chanelle or Lucy Pinder, the website offers amateur video-shoots, while there’s also a dubiously titled social network. At MyNuts, men can compile personal pages which are not dissimilar to a Facebook profile, albeit with slightly more risqué content. Crucially, Walker hasn’t fallen into the trap of trying to replicate everything that’s in the magazine, recognising that web content needs to be different. Instead, Nuts.co.uk is full of bite-sized, short form content with lots of opportunity for the reader to interact.
The Elusive Male
Luckily for IPC, advertisers are desperate to target this market. Men aged between 18-25 often have impressive spending power and an appetite for top-end gadgets and designer gear; without the responsibilities of older consumers, they are also less likely to be deterred from spending by an economic downturn.
But young men are notoriously difficult to target. Known in the industry as “message averse”, television and print campaigns often have little effect; although they’re willing to spend lots of money, influencing how they do it is difficult. If Nuts.co.uk has 1.4m young men in the same place, it makes it pretty unique – explaining why advertising revenues are up 92 per cent year on year.
It looks like IPC is onto a winner with Nuts.co.uk – despite what Gove thinks about the moral fibre of such content.