Paper Thin: Magazine Ad Pages Down 20% In July
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.