The latest figures for monthly magazine ad pages have been published by Media Industry Newsletter. The weak results are not as bad as previous months, as total ad pages for monthlies fell 13.4% from 13,450 to 11,645. December's comparisons with last year are bad news for what is traditionally one of the strongest ad months of the year.
Of the 150 monthly magazines tracked by MIN, 112 or about 75% saw ad pages decline in December 2009 compared to the same month in 2008. Within this group, 30 (20% of the total) declined 10% to 20%, while 55 declined over 20%; the remaining 27 titles declined less than 10%.
In other words, the overall decline was top-heavy, with certain magazines taking big hits, balancing out a number of others that were flat or even saw increases.
Some of December's biggest losers were Architectural Digest, down 58%; Town & Country, down 50%; W, down 49%; and Elle Décor, down 40.6%. Among the biggest winners were Scientific American, up 55%; Better Homes & Gardens, up 42%; Ladies' Home Journal, up 30%; Southern Living, up 29%; and Cooking Light, up 25%.
The comparisons with December 2008 were familiar, as consumer magazine ad pages had already entered a steep decline following the financial crisis and credit crunch that began in fall of that year. Ad pages in the last month of 2008 declined 17.8% compared to the same month in 2007, heralding even bigger drops in 2009.
Indeed, 2009's December decline is a weak finish to a fairly disastrous year. Full-year figures for 2009 show a 21% decline compared to 2008, compounding a 9.4% decline in 2008 compared to 2007.