Magazine ad pages are down in the throes of economy-wide decreases, largely in the pharmaceutical, automotive and technology categories.
Total magazine rate-card-reported advertising revenue for the first half of 2008 posted a 3.1 per cent decline against the previous year, according to Publishers Information Bureau. Ad pages during the first half totaled 108,924.13, declining 7.4 per cent compared with the January to June year-ago period, with total revenue for the second quarter marking a decline of 4.7 per cent against the same period in 2007. Ad pages totaled 58,744.77 from April through June 2007, an 8.2 per cent drop.
Seemingly no category was immune from the economic slowdown. Declines were seen in toiletries and cosmetics; home furnishings and supplies; apparel and accessories; direct-response companies; financial; insurance and real estate; and the often sensitive auto sector. Drug advertising throughout media, already subject to stringent regulation in the earlier part of the year, is thought to have contributed prominently in decreases in that magazine ad category.
Despite the trend, several sectors managed to post first half gains, among them food and food products; retail; public transportation; and hotels and resorts.
Retail gained a boost in spending from discount department and variety stores, as well as shopping centers, most notably in the second quarter. Public transportation and hotels and resorts, which registered a slight decline in ad pages in the first quarter, posted gains in the second, due in part to increased investment from airlines, hotels and both domestic and international destinations.
Just like the bad old days
"Recent reports indicate a downward trend in overall ad forecasts for 2008, which is reflected in PIB first-half numbers for magazines," said Ellen Oppenheim, exec VP-chief marketing officer for the Magazine Publishers of America. "The magazine ad trend this year is similar to those of the last ad drop-offs in the early 1990s, as well as 2001-2002."
In both those periods, PIB ad revenue and pages declined, but later rebounded with the ad market.
Many titles had double-digit declines in the first half of this year compared to last year. AARP the Magazine was off 20.5 per cent in ad pages for the first half, while Atlantic Monthly was off 17 per cent, and Blender was down 23.5 per cent. Better Homes and Gardens was down 12.7 per cent, Business Week 14.8 per cent, Coastal Living 29.1 per cent and Cooking Light 14.4 per cent. Cosmopolitan and Cosmo Girl were down 15.1 per cent and 14.5 per cent, respectively. Country Weekly was down 21.9 per cent, ESPN the Magazine 14.8 per cent, Entertainment Weekly 16.8 per cent, Family Circle 14.5 per cent, and Fitness 23.9 per cent.
Other titles showing ad-page declines: Forbes (12.6 per cent); Fortune Small Business (14.3 per cent); Gourmet (18.5 per cent); Home (30.9 per cent); Ladies Home Journal (14.5 per cent); National Geographic Kids (38.8 per cent); Nickelodeon (37.3 per cent); Sports Illustrated Kids (30.8 per cent); The New Yorker (20.1 per cent); PC Magazine (35.8 per cent); Smart Money (21.9 per cent); Sporting News (30.9 per cent); Sunset (14.8 per cent); Traditional Home (15.1 per cent); Newsweek (22.4 per cent); Time (21.1 per cent); and US News and World Report (30.3 per cent).
Food titles a bright spot
Newer food magazines showed growth: Cooking with Paula Deen was up 31 per cent, Every Day with Rachael Ray (15 per cent), Relish (29.4 per cent).
Other titles also reported good news. Cookie was up 49.5 per cent; Parents (12.2 per cent); Fast Company, under new ownership of Mansueto Ventures (31.4 per cent); Body & Soul (14.6 per cent); In Touch Weekly (14.4 per cent); OK Weekly (31.7 per cent); Southern Accents (17.9 per cent); Veranda (13.7 per cent); Spin (15.3 per cent); Technology Review (28 per cent); and Working Mother (19.2 per cent).