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When trying to figure out market size the first place I check is the magazine directories such as Bacon’s Magazine Directory, Burrelle’s Media Directory, Oxbridge Communications Directory of Periodicals, and SRDS Magazine Media Source to name a few. You can find out in a few minutes just how many different magazines serve this market. The number of magazines is a good indication of size. Remember, the advertising revenue supports the magazines and the industry buyers support the advertisers.
Note how expensive the ad space is in the magazines. A good way to see the comparative figures for magazines is to look in Oxbridge Communications Magazine Directory – they give you a CPM or Cost Per Thousand for each magazine. This shows you the cost to reach a thousand people with a full page black and white ad in that magazine. It makes comparing magazine advertising costs much easier. Hummm&ldots; Thanks, Oxbridge!
Next check the circulation of each magazine: how large is their circulation? This is probably the single best method of assessing market size. There will be some pretty consistent figures showing how many copies are distributed to industry personnel. If you really want to see just where all those magazines are being sent, call the publisher and ask for a "Media kit." This free package is how the publishers themselves market their own magazines to advertisers. In the package will be a copy of an independent audit showing who qualifies to receive the magazine, how they are qualified, and shows the circulation breakdown of exactly where all the copies are sent.
There are usually some magazines that have 30% or 50% more circulation than most of the others. These periodicals may have more relaxed qualifications to receive their magazine. Their readership may be of lesser value because of this, but maybe not – depending on what you are selling, and how tightly focused your audience profile needs to be targeted. If you want to address an entire marketplace by sheer numbers, these larger circulation magazines may be the way to go.
While the larger distribution magazines may be more freely circulated, the smaller circulation magazines may be sent to a more tightly qualified subscriber list; or the magazines may be sent only to “Paid” subscribers – which really knocks down circulation. Paid circulation, however, may mean better readership, a higher quality, or a more focused publication. Some paid magazines are sent strictly to association members, so be on the lookout for that, too. The magazine is paid for out of the members’ dues. These publications may be good, or horrible, even though their subscriber list is large and it’s shown as a paid-for magazine. The horrible magazines simply get thrown out by the subscriber. I throw out the AAA magazine that comes with AAA membership, but I’m sure their circulation figures include me as a reader. I suspect nobody reads it, as it’s one of the worst magazines I’ve ever seen: filled with blatantly biased articles designed solely to sell their own products and the products hawked by paying advertisers in their magazine. Ugh. And I thought there was always supposed to be a dividing line between editorial and advertising.
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