After showing growth for the first six months of 2011, consumer magazine ad pages fell 5.6 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period in 2010, according to newly released figures from Publishers Information Bureau.

That setback in the third quarter was enough to erase year-to-date gains, with ad pages now down 1.1 percent for the first nine months of the year. Prior to third quarter 2011, consumer magazine ad pages as a whole had grown for five consecutive quarters.

Half of the 12 advertising categories tracked by PIB posted page declines (including Food & Food Products, down 16.2 percent and Home Furnishing & Supplies down 11.8 percent) while half the categories were up (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate was the big winner, up 15.5 percent in ad pages).

Advertising revenue dropped 1.5 percent to $4.71 billion in the third quarter but grew 2.1 percent to $14.35 billion for the first nine months of the year, although PIB calculates using full rate card pricing and doesn’t account for discounting.

Big Winners: AARP, Reader’s Digest

Several long-standing titles that showed weakness in recent years have come blazing back. AARP the Magazine was up 33.3 percent in pages in the third quarter (and up 17.3 percent for the year-to-date) and Reader’s Digest jumped 30.5 percent for the quarter (and 10.7 percent for the year-to-date).

Fine Cooking posted a 37 percent jump in ad pages for the third quarter, while Hearst’s Food Network Magazine was up 33.2 percent. Elle Decor posted 24.5 percent growth, according to PIB.

Biggest Losers: National Geographic Kids, US Airways

Ad pages in National Geographic for Kids (which posted the most subscription sales in the first half of the year at 1.12 million, according to BPA Worldwide) plunged 54 percent while US Airways Magazine fell 46 percent. Twist was down 40.3 percent in ad pages for the quarter, while Time Out New York fell 30.4 percent.

Newsweeklies remain challenged, with TIME down 4.2 percent in pages, Newsweek down 10 percent and The Week down 17. 2 percent in pages for the quarter. For year-to-date, Newsweek is down 22 percent in ad pages, while The Week is up 7 percent and TIME is up 4.2 percent. 

Six of the seven Rodale titles tracked by PIB kicked off 2011 with ad page gains in their Jan/Feb. issues–now all six of those magazines post ad page losses for the third quarter with Prevention down 24.7 percent; Women’s Health down 22.1 percent; Men’s Health down 19.5 percent; Organic Gardening down 4.7 percent; Runner’s World down 2.9 percent; and Bicycling down 10.1 percent.