While some African-America magazines have struggled this year to bolster their bottom lines, the segment as a whole is healthy and has raked in an estimated $420 million in advertising revenues, according to Carlos Pelay, president of advertising research company the Media Economics Group. Pelay spoke today during the first session of Target Market News‘ fifth annual African-American Magazine Summit. More than 40 people from the African-American magazine segment attended.

The nearly 30 titles that Pelay tracks through his "BlackMagazineMonitor" service (he doesn’t track every magazine in the segment) brought in an estimated $280 million in advertising revenues. "The market may not be growing as quickly as it once was, but it is up and is healthy," said Pelay. "If you really want to know what’s going on in this industry you have to look past just the top five or six black and African-American magazines [tracked by PIB] to see the more targeted advertising activity."

Not surprisingly, segment giants Essence, Vibe and Ebony topped Pelay’s list of ad revenue generators. At $70.09 million, Essence‘s ad revenues are up 19.3 percent this year over last year. Ironically, the other biggest gainer is the now-shuttered Vibe Vixen with $9.6 million, up nearly 25 percent.

Also not a surprise, Proctor & Gamble and L’Oreal USA top Pelay’s list of largest ad spenders in African-American magazines. The biggest movers in that category are urban clothing brand Rocawear (estimated $4.08 million in ad spending, up 202 percent) and the Target Corporation (estimated $4.07 million in ad spending, up 236 percent).

"This is not a static segment," Pelay said. "Bottom line, some numbers are flat, but there are a lot of new advertisers here. This segment is vibrant."

Other topics discussed at the summit were how to identify a magazine’s niche; the benefits/risks of publishing bi-monthly, quarterly or annually; and maintaining relationships with other African-American publishers. The roster of speakers included Uptown group publisher Len Burnett, Ebony and Jet group publisher Kenard Gibbs and GIANT CEO/editor-in-chief Smokey Fontaine.