Magazine Advertising Declines

Posted on 7/30/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)



After a period of sustained economic softness, U.S. print magazines are beginning to show a significant decline in ad revenues. According to figures released by the Publishers Information Bureau and TNS Media Intelligence, the first half of 2008 closed with a 3% revenue decline over the previous year. Ad pages went down by over 7%.

Magazines closed 2007 with a 6% increase in ad revenues and a stable ad-page count. First quarter of 2008 registered a slight revenue decline of 1% and a 6% decline in pages. Most recent figures show the downward trend picking up speed.

As expected, items viewed as nonessential by consumers have incurred the biggest advertising cuts. These include the automotive, technology, drug and cosmetic sectors, which showed respective year-over-year revenue losses of 18%, 15%, 11% and 6%. The PIB notes that drugs and remedies were also subject to intense regulatory scrutiny, which contributed to generally declining ad budgets.

Still, several segments are showing growth. Food-product and retail advertising has gone up by 15% and 11%, respectively. Such growth is fueled by a second-quarter boost in spending from discount department stores, variety stores and shopping centers, which are have to work harder to retain market share. Airlines and hotels are also making an increased investment, boosting the transportation, hotels and resorts category revenues by 5%.

Specialty titles are bleeding nearly as fast as newspapers. Despite its established parent brand, National Geographic Kids posted a 38% loss of ad revenue for the first half of 2008. Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report are down by a respective 30% and 26%, and Sunday magazines are not fairing much better. Even the seemingly unshakeable areas of small business, fashion and celebrity gossip are taking a hit: the ad revenues of Fortune Small Business, Cosmopolitan and Star are down by more than 10% each.

An equally diverse group, including Latina, Esquire and Seventeen, is flat, no gains or losses.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Condé Nast Portfolio is up by a staggering 117%. Women's Health has grown by 104%.  OK Weekly is up by 45%. All have remained in a growth pattern for some time, bucking the trend of general industry decline. Other growing large-circulation titles include The Economist, Working Mother, Men's Vogue and Fast Company, in the 20% to 40% ad-growth bracket, and In Touch Weekly, Harper's Bazaar, National Geographic and Men's Journal, with 10% to 20% growth each.


Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

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