By Frank J. Romano October 27, 2003 -- Moving marketers to print advertising continues to be a challenge. There is strong competition for the advertising dollar and print is one medium among many. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. The Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) partnered with a major automotive company and commissioned Hudson River Group (HRG) to study three specific models over a three year period. The study entitled “What Drives Automotive Sales” substantiates the effectiveness of magazines in the media mix for the automotive category. Some highlights of the study include: • Advertising was a significant contributor to volume for all three brands measured. • Magazines play an important role in driving sales volume for automotive brands. An average of 2.2% of total volume for the brands studied was driven by magazines. The HRG “All Industry” average is 1.9%. For perspective, according to J.D. Power & Associates, a percentage point in the automotive market today is worth nearly $4 billion. • Return on Investment (ROI) for all brands was positive for magazines (i.e. each dollar invested in magazines returned more than one dollar in incremental sales). All three models had ROIs higher than the “All Industry” average of $1.33. • An average of 48% of TV advertising exceeded the saturation point, where additional weight no longer drove significant volume. Allocating some of those dollars to magazines would increase overall advertising ROI. • Magazines outperformed secondary media for all three brands analyzed. Overall, ROI for all secondary media averaged only $3.62 in incremental sales-per-dollar spent versus $8.23 for magazines. The automotive media mix study reinforces findings from other accountability studies across a range of products and services. As in other categories, shifting money to magazines will give automotive advertisers a better return on their investment. The most important finding for any marketing mix analysis is determining the proper allocation of support across the entire marketing arsenal. Magazines are an important arrow in the marketer's quiver, especially for brands that require specific targeting—which is one of magazines' strengths. Media buyers say some large corporate advertisers are tired of rising broadcast ad costs and are ready to seek alternatives, perhaps dropping primetime ads altogether. Will 2003 be the year we see some media professionals not buying prime time and going to syndication, cable, or print instead? The notion that television remains the only effective medium to reach a mass audience has evolved into a “false positive,” according to one media pro. Print publishers are also hoping to attract attention while advertisers are in a deal-making mode. The MPA is running a campaign to urge media buyers to take a second look at glossy magazines before blowing the budget on TV.