PlanetOut Is Out Of Publishing (And $26 Million)
The fortunes of Out and the Advocate have plummeted in a dizzying fashion, especially compared to the broader consumer magazine business, where even struggling titles usually keep their losses to single digits. By contrast, the Advocate saw ad pages drop 27.6% in 2007 compared to 2005 to 572, as Out tumbled 17.6%. And that was actually a recovery--at one point in the middle of 2007, the Advocate was down 41.9%, and Out was down 20.4%.
These downturns were especially noteworthy because overall ad spending on gay media is booming.
According to the 2007 edition of the Gay Press Report, produced by Prime Access Inc. and Rivendell Media, ad spending in gay and lesbian publications reached $223.5 million in 2006--a 205% increase from 1996. Observers trace this increase to a new understanding among advertisers that appearing in gay media can build intense customer loyalty. Indeed, the Gay Press Report notes that "as a group, gay and lesbian consumers hold greater brand loyalty than do their straight counterparts." Overall, gays and lesbians dispose of about $641 billion in spending power.
So why were the two most recognizable publications suffering?
Rivendell and Prime Access track a number of different kinds of publications, in addition to national magazines. They found big increases in spending for local newspapers (24.7%) and resource guides (116.7%). Both publications appeal to local advertisers that want to reach this niche community. Out and The Advocate may also be losing ground to other national magazines, like Genre and Instinct, which tend to be somewhat racier. The Gay Press Report pegs ad pages in gay national magazines growing 91.6% since 2005.
The magazines also face competition from the Internet. Gays and lesbians are early adopters of online media, including social network-style sites on the Internet. Nobody knows this better than PlanetOut, which is essentially an Internet company with a number of popular Web sites, including PlanetOut.com, Gay.Com and Kleptomaniac.com. Of course, after the failure of an online company's foray into LGBT magazine publishing, it's unclear whether a television network can do any better.