In-flight magazines draw high-end readers

New data from Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI) show that in-flight magazines enjoy high levels of engagement with the nation’s top-earning readers.

MRI reports on more than 250 national consumer titles. According to fall 2007 data, readers of United Airlines’ Hemispheres magazine have the highest median household income of any national publication. These 2.2 million monthly readers report a median income of $123,233.

Hemispheres, published by Pace Communications, has also reported a 21% growth in readership over the past five years. Readers spend a median 26.8 minutes with each issue of the in-flight magazine.

“Frequent business travelers are a high-end demographic,” said Craig Waller, CMO of Pace. “So, that’s our unique proposition to advertisers. When we look at a pool of advertisers, they’re looking at business and travel, we say, ‘You’re spending a lot of money in both these categories. You could maximize that spend by picking us first.’”

Pace also publishes Delta Sky, Southwest Airlines Spirit and US Airways Magazine. Delta Sky posted a 20% growth in readership over the past six months and now enjoys the largest monthly readership of all in-flight titles, with 3.8 million readers.

Southwest Airlines Spirit and US Airways Magazine report the second- and third-largest readerships, respectively, among in-flight titles. Spirit also boasts the third-highest median reader income — $67,888 — of all magazines.

“Frequent business travelers are a hard-to-reach demographic and light consumers of most consumer media,” Waller said. “Our editorial package has to cut across travel and business publications and talk to that audience in a way that engages them with travel editorial, general business editorial and how they conduct their business lives.”

A full-page color ad in Hemispheres costs close to $40,000. Waller reports that the ratio of advertising to editorial content for Pace’s in-flight magazines is roughly the same as for consumer magazines. If there is a difference, editorial content is at most 10% higher than advertising content.

Pace’s titles sell package ad deals across the magazines, in-flight TV, tray tables and signs in frequent flyer lounges.

Waller explained, “We have a whole menu of media opportunities that we can put together. The core is the measured part, and that’s the magazines, and those are great numbers around which to build a program.”

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