Prakash Patel, CEO of mobile application agency Prezence. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN

MAGAZINE circulation in SA is in decline but the industry’s revenues are growing faster than elsewhere.

In the third quarter of 2013, total SA magazine circulation fell 7,6% y/y to 20,1m from 21,9m, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Consumer magazines fell 12% to 6,05m and business-to-business magazines fell 8,1%, to 1,15m, in the year.

Custom magazines (retail titles such as Clicks Mag) fell 7,7% to 12,39m. Free magazines was the only category that grew – 88,6% to 617155. Yet revenues in print media are increasing.

The International Print & Digital Research Forum’s recent report, “The 2013 latest developments in worldwide audience research”, says that though newspapers and magazines around the world are under pressure, SA is showing relatively strong growth rates.

The report covers 107 general population readership surveys in 81 countries.

The report’s forecast formedia revenue growth rates for 2013-2015 expects global magazine revenue growth of 0,3% against 6,6% in SA. For global newspapers, the growth rate is 0% and in SA 5,3%.

Other SA media growth rates are: television 5,5%, radio 8,8%, out-of-home 7,2%, cinema 7,7%.

Though SA is slightly more stable than the rest of the world, there is a need for integration of various media platforms, says Grant Robertson, strategic innovations director at research firm Ask Afrika. “Total SA magazine revenue is growing, but circulation revenue is growing faster than ad revenue,” he says.

“However, ad revenue remains crucial and digital revenue will contribute.”

Prakash Patel, CEO of mobile application agency Prezence, says South Africans are using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets more to access content. “In SA, consumers are increasingly taking up smartphones,” he says. “Current statistics from Arthur Goldstuck’s Social Media Landscape 2014 show there are about 14,3m smartphones in use in SA. Next year we’re expecting to pass the 16m mark. As a result publishers are going mobile to access even more readers.”

This ranges from creating apps for smartphones or tablets, to building mobi-sites. Recently, Prezence developed an app for Eyewitness News to cater to its growing mobile audience. The app is available free for download from iPhone, Android and BlackBerry app stores.

“It offers an intuitive navigation experience that mimics traditional news browsing, with horizontal swiping and tapping in tow,” he says. “With an increasingly mobile audience no publisher can do without a mobile solution. But a mobile strategy in SA has to be smart. SA mobile phone users may not necessarily have the iPhone. In fact, with only 1% of smartphones in SA being iPhones, they probably don’t.”

He says proper digitisation requires a mobi-site, responsive to all phones, to reach a maximum number of readers. The strategy is: mobi-site first, and only then an app.

This article was first published in the December 19 2013 edition of the Financial Mail