Five graphics execution factors provide ammo for a competitive analysis attack
When typical magazine competitive analysis strategy is mapped out, usual emphasis is on what the words say rather than evidence of graphics expertise. Thus editors may be asked to track number of pages devoted to specific product categories. Or attention might be paid to “first and only” achievements by opposing parties.
Such approaches, of course, have merit. But adding graphics analysis to your review may suggest additional strengths worth exploiting or some surprising weaknesses worth correcting. Let’s look at five possible categories you might test-count for a period of three to six months.
- Overall illustrated percent. This tabulation reflects the relationship between total pages per issue carrying editorial content and how many of those pages use photos, line art or tabular material.
- Infographics percent. Instructive graphic elements should appear on at least 20 percent of pages per issue carrying editorial content. Of the five factors cited in this discussion, infographics execution often is a sure-fire weak link.
- Pages/graphics ratio. The calculation requires dividing total number of pages carrying editorial content into total number of illustrations. A sub-consideration of that relationship is that there should be at least one graphic on every page carrying editorial content. The true sign of strength would be a ratio of 2.0 or higher.
- Number of active front cover lines. “Active” refers to the use of active verbs as opposed to posting web-less labels. An attention-getting cover offers at least five story lines highlighting a variety of topics. Some editors are able to include eight story lines.
- Story-telling photos percent. While a magazine may be abundantly illustrated, many photos used lack news impact. For instance, some publications are dominated by head shots and concept art. Concepts may be okay in a pinch. But sometimes you find overuse of stock graphics (like handshakes, dollar signs, over-sized question marks, and so forth). My photo analysis target calls for faces + concepts to account for no more than 20 percent of the illustrations used in an issue. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, such as an issue focusing on industry personalities.