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paidContent.org - Mags' Ad Pages Plunged 26 Percent In First Quarter

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David Kaplan
paidContent.org
Thursday, April 16, 2009; 12:07 AM

While Q108's single-digit declines set off alarms at magazines, this year's Q1 numbers could set off even more panic: the 230-plus pubs in the Publishers Information Bureau's ranking saw a collective drop of 20.6 percent in ad dollars, while ad pages plunged 26.1 percent. Those number include Sunday newspaper mags, but were close to consumer mags' drop of 20.2 percent for ad revenue and 25.9 percent fall off in pages. Also, it should be noted that the revenue numbers are based on what magazines say they're charging on ratecards, which are invariably discounted, so the revenue numbers reflect starting prices, not the final take.

?Big falls: One of the biggest drops was the 50 percent and 55 percent declines for ad dollars and pages, respectively, at Alpha Media Group's music pub Blender, which not too surprisingly has just gone online-only. But as bad as that was, Conde Nast's Portfolio saw ad revs down 48 percent and pages sinking 60 percent (Update: A rep for the business news mag pointed out that it now publishes 10 times a year instead of 12. So with the two month difference, the adjusted number is actually -46 percent on ad pages). The magazine, which launched with a great deal of fanfare and expense exactly two years ago, and has more recently been scaled back, is often the target of speculation that its days are numbered.

?Everybody hurts: One of the few titles to see comparatively positive numbers was Meredith (NYSE: MDP) Corp.'s Family Circle, which posted 11 percent gains in Q1 ad revenue, while ad pages rose 5.4 percent. But the strongest growth?pun slightly intended?belonged to American Media's Muscle & Fitness, which was up 21.8 in ad revenue and 19.1 percent in pages. It's tempting to say that like the internet, niche categories like health would be doing better than general interest pubs, but then a mag like Atlantic Media's wonkish National Journal scores a 50 percent gain in ad dollars and a 42.1 percent rise in ad pages. Overall, though, the only thing the PIB's list shows is that nearly everyone is down by double digits in Q1.

Photo Credit: The Guardian UK

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