1Q 2008: Magazine Food Ads Up, Revenues Down

Posted on 4/15/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

According to first-quarter data from the Publishers Information Bureau (PIB), U.S. consumer magazines are exhibiting classic signs of recession. Advertising revenues and pages are on a decline, given the market's economic woes. In contrast, ads of food products and other necessities is growing in both dollars and share of revenue.

Consumer magazines' ad revenues and pages have declined by a respective 1.2% and 6.4% since 2007. Though the year-over-year decline may appear slight, some magazine categories and titles show drastic losses.

The most severe effects of the tightening consumer purse strings are those in the automotive segment, where ad revenues are down by 16.9%, and pages are down by 21.3%. AutoWeek exemplifies the trend with a 20.3% drop. Other economically sensitive categories included home furnishings, technology, apparel and cosmetics. Furniture and tech advertising are down by over 11% each.

Magazines with the highest revenue losses include Scientific American (-42%), U.S. News & World Report (-35%), Los Angeles Times Magazine (-29%), Rolling Stone (-27%) and several smaller niche titles, such as National Geographic Kids (-46%) and Motorboating (-26%).

Packaged-goods advertising has been on the rise. In the face of economic uncertainty, marketers of food and food products have increased their spending by nearly 30%; corresponding ad pages are up by close to 20%. A wide range of products, including beverages, confectionery, dairy and baked goods, ingredients and seasonings, meats and prepared foods, exhibited growth. Relish, the magazine that celebrates America's love of food, reported a 105% increase in ad revenue and a 46% rise in ad pages.

Department stores, super-centers, smaller branded apparel stores and clothing chains are also holding their own. Retail advertising has grown by 8.3%. Ads in the public transportation, hotel and resort category are also up by 6%.

Among large-circulation magazines, the fastest-growing titles range from Women's Health (ad revenues up by 133%) and Every Day with Rachael Ray (+82%) to OK Weekly (+49%), Self (+31%), Men's Journal (+28%) and The Economist (+27%).

Fewer editorial pages and decreases in circulation always accompany declining ad revenues. The inevitable consequence is a decline in the number of images purchased, as well as lower single-image revenue for circulation-dependent rights-managed images.

Still, it's important to remember that some publications defy the market. Car and Driver posted 8.8% ad growth in an industry segment badly affected by the current economic downturn. While business-to-business titles have dwindled for several years, Fast Company remains among the fastest-growing magazines across all categories, with a 36% increase in ad revenue since last year. Financial advertising may have stagnated; however, financial publications and editorial coverage remain popular and will continue to be a source of image revenue.

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 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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