Paper Thin: Magazine Ad Pages Down 20% In July

by , Jun 22, 2009, 5:45 PM
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magazinesThe situation for monthly magazines isn't getting better, but it's not getting worse, according to the most recent ad page count from MIN Online, which found the July issues of monthly magazines down 20% in ad pages compared to the same month last year.

While this is obviously a weak performance, publishers are hopeful that it represents a leveling off or bottoming out of the rate of decline, which has been increasing steadily since last year.

There's no denying that many big monthlies are still in trouble, as a hit parade of top titles have endured steep losses exceeding the average.

In order, titles experiencing the biggest declines in July and for the year-to-date include Town & Country (60% July, 44% YTD), Architectural Digest (57% July, 50% YTD), Conde Nast Traveler (53% July, 43% YTD), Dwell (52% July, 44% YTD), Money (47% July, 33% YTD), Scientific American (47% July, 41% YTD), Elle Décor (46% July, 32% YTD), Harper's Bazaar (46% July, 29% YTD), Prevention (45% July, 29% YTD), GQ (43% July, 33% YTD), W (43% July, 44% YTD), O the Oprah Magazine (42% July, 31% YTD), Vogue (41% July, 31% YTD), and National Geographic (41% July, 34% YTD).

Overall, of 160 monthly magazines tracked by MIN Online, only 11 (or about 7%) have not posted declines for year-to-date, and 27 (17%) did not post declines in July. Ninety-one monthly titles (57%) have seen ad pages fall 20% or more for the year-to-date, with 40 (25%) experiencing declines of 30% or more.

It's hard to put a good spin on a monthly decline of 20%, but in comparison to other recent monthly figures, July is less. Total ad pages fell 26% in February, 24.5% in April, and 22% in June, so there may be reason to hope that losses are gradually evening out.

However, the fortunes of consumer magazines have traditionally turned on the fourth-quarter holiday season -- and if ad demand is not beginning to recover by that point, they could face another round of huge losses. Publishers will keep a close eye on ad page figures for August and September, which serve as a bellwether for advertiser sentiment going into the fourth quarter.

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