Magazines Lose One-Fourth of Ad Pages in 2009

Magazines Lose One-Fourth of Ad Pages in 2009

Last year was a memorably tough one, and final numbers confirm it was as challenging as it felt: Magazine ad pages plunged 25.6%, or by 58,340 pages, in 2009 compared with 2008, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

Revenue was down 18.1% for the year and down 12.4% for Q409. It was the most significant drop in at at least the past ten years, reports MediaBuyerPlanner.

Not surprisingly, some magazines fared better than others. Meredith’s Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, and Ladies’ Home Journal all posted ad page increases. Time Inc.’s People StyleWatch saw pages increase 24.4%, and People stayed about flat.

At the other end of the spectrum, serious declines were seen at Time Inc.’s Money and Fortune, which were down 29.1% and 36% respectively. Hearst’s Town and Country fell 45.6%, while Veranda was down 48.1%.

Every one of Conde Nast’s publications saw ad page declines, though the publisher still led others in terms of the highest number of ad pages, at 23,122 for the year. Time Inc. followed with 23,102, PIB reported.

Strong Q4 and year-End Categories

Not all categories suffered. The food and food products ad segment was down just 3.9% for the year, and grew by a strong 21.9% in Q4 in terms of revenue. Other categories that had a stronger fourth-quarter included household cleaners, pet foods and supplies, drugs, toiletries, and fitness products. Even domestic auto was showing some improvement by the end of the year. While the sector was down 32.3% in revenue for the year, it was down just 5.6% in the fourth quarter.

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Part of the strength of the fourth quarter was due to advertisers releasing money from budgets that had been held closely throughout the year, PIB said.

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Q409 also compared favorably withQ408 because advertisers had already begun slashing their budgets by the end of 2008.

Signs of Improvement

There are indications that ad pages are on the upswing. While all of Conde Nast’s titles fell in 2009, several are showing increases in the New Year. Glamour’s ad pages are expected to be up 6% to 7% for the March. Vogue was up 3% in February, and that magazine’s March, April and May issues are also tracking up, though it’s too soon to tell for certain at this point.

“While marketers’ skittishness continued through the fourth quarter, magazine spending showed improvement compared to earlier in 2009,” said Ellen Oppenheim, EVP/CEO of the Magazine Publishers of America. “Magazines experienced an uptick in food spending and relative improvement in other areas, especially in automotive.”

MediaFinder.com reported last month that the number of folded magazines far outnumbered new titles for 2009. The difficult economic year saw 275 new magazines launch and 428 cease publication.

ZenithOptimedia predicts that global spending on magazines will be down 4.5% this year.

About the data: TNS Media Intelligence collects and monitors this data and supplies it to PIB.