While the magazine industry in general may be stuck in first gear, some publishers are roaring ahead with big gains in ad pages and revenue.
One of the most notable success stories in 2011 comes from American Express Publishing, which said it expects total ad pages to increase 10% in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2010, while advertising revenue should be up 15%.
The publisher of Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, and Departures, among other magazines, attributes the big gains to a surge in luxury advertising spending, with fashion up 105%, household equipment up 68%, jewelry and watches up 36%, and travel up 22%.
The strides partly reflect the confidence of luxury advertisers in the spending habits of affluent consumers, who were (by definition) less affected by the economic downturn and slow pace of the subsequent recovery.
On this note, American Express Publishing President and CEO Ed Kelly cited a company study, in conjunction with the Harrison Group, which shows "high net worth individuals are interested in spending quality time with their friends and family while enjoying memorable experiences in the here and now. We see this trend impacting our business, particularly in our largest growth category, travel."
The growth hasn't been distributed evenly across AmEx titles, judging by first-quarter figures from the Publishers Information Bureau. In the first quarter, Departures led the way with a 42.8% increase in ad pages, to 176, followed by Food & Wine, up 20% to 192. However, Travel + Leisure was down 14.1% to 206, and Executive Travel was down 28% to 55 ad pages, also per PIB.
Still, the overall performance shows that AmEx is faring much better than the industry as a whole. For the first six months of 2011, MIN Online reports that total ad pages for monthly magazines are up just 1.44%.