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Only 18 Consumer Magazines Grew Ad Pages in 2009

That’s it.

Jason Fell By Jason Fell
01/12/2010 -17:02 PM

Magazine advertising revenue is down. Way down. We know this. Do we need any more reminders?

Needed or not, the Publishers Information Bureau Tuesday released its 2009 year-end magazine advertising report. It revealed that ad pages for 2009 were down 25.6 percent, while estimated revenues closed at $19.45 billion, a drop of 18.1 percent.

While anyone could have guessed that it would spell yet another quarterly decline (the 10th out of 11 since PIB began reporting on a quarterly basis in mid-2007, to be exact) I couldn’t have projected (or perhaps didn’t want to) that a mere 18 magazines would post ad page gains for the 12-month period.

That’s right. Only 18.

The biggest gainers among them were Time Inc.’s fashion product title People Style Watch (+24.4 percent), OK! (+20.7) and Bonnier’s Saveur (+12.6). Not far behind were Family Circle (+11.5 percent), Scholastic Parent & Child (+9.6), The Week (+9.5) and Fitness (+9.1). Kudos to all of them.

Then, unfortunately, come the year’s biggest decliners, many of which are from the boating sector. The reported losses are deeper than I can grasp while writing this: Boating Life (-65.8 percent), Power & Motoryacht (-53.2), Boating (-53.1) and Architectural Digest (-49.8). A TON of titles followed closely, losing well more than 40 percent of their ad pages last year compared to 2008.

But according to Magazine Publishers of America’s Ellen Oppenheim, magazine spending showed improvement during the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2008. Ad pages during the period slipped 21.6 percent compared to the prior year fourth quarter while revenues dropped only 12.4 percent. “Magazines experienced an uptick in food spending and relative improvement in other areas, especially in automotive.”

Hopefully this means the market has bottomed. Hopefully, this means that we’ll begin to see gains (or gradually less severe losses) in the quarters to come.

But let’s keep a perspective. The advertising pullback of 2009 was so severe that many of the surviving publishers have migrated away (in varying degrees) from dependence on advertising revenues. They’re charging more for content in print and online. They’re diversifying their product portfolio so much that print is arguably a second-tier player in the overall mix. Some are dropping print and/or print advertising altogether.

Moving forward, I wonder how accurate a barometer PIB’s quarterly reports will be about the health of the consumer magazine publishing business.

In the meantime, here’s a look at how a number of categories performed in terms of ad pages, title-by-title.

AUTO 2009 2008 % CHNG
Automobile 510.97
Autoweek 793.03 1,157.26 -31.5
Car and Driver 805.98 1,031.03 -21.8
Hot Rod 532.50 638.16 -16.6
Motor Trend 722.32
1,096.40 -34.1
Road & Track 799.46
1,152.42 -26.4
2009 2008 % CHNG
BusinessWeek 1,247.01
1,882.38 -33.8.
Entrepreneur 852.33 1,043.33
Fast Company 426.08
616.24 -30.9
Forbes 1,937.14 2,774.34
Fortune 1,523.98 2,382.71
Harvard Business Review 343.82 468.67 -26.6
Inc. 619.80 817.93
Kiplinger's 279.92 424.81 -34.1
Money 563.02 793.62 -29.1
SmartMoney 387.29 502.23 -22.9
Newsweek 1,116.73 1,506.06 -25.9
The Week 659.91 602.73 9.5
Time 1,447.05 1,752.19 -17.4
2009 2008 %CHNG
Entertainment Weekly 965.87 1,216.39 -20.6
In Touch Weekly 854.90 1,094.19 -21.9
Life & Style 383.82 510.97 -24.9
People 3,367.20 3,422.23 -1.6
Star 1,131.40 1,173.24 -3.6
Us Weekly 1,791.45 1,949.21 -8.1
OK! 903.82 748.74 +20.7



Jason Fell By Jason Fell --

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