The recovery in consumer magazine advertising, already anemic at best, is in danger of collapsing entirely, judging by very weak ad page figures for August recently posted by MIN Online.
Total ad pages for monthly magazines declined 7.42% in August 2011 versus the same month in 2010, according to MIN, which said 100 out of 152 monthly titles experienced declines.
There were a few surprising winners, with MIN reporting substantial increases at Ladies' Home Journal, up 26.1%; Travel + Leisure, up 19.1%; Reader's Digest, up 30.3%; and Conde Nast Traveler, up 26.4%. But the overall picture was not encouraging, especially following an unusually weak second quarter.
Separate figures from the Publishers Information Bureau show that total ad pages for all consumer magazines tracked by PIB (including weekly and monthly) registered a faint 0.3% increase from 43,543 in the second quarter of 2010 to 43,671 in the second quarter of 2011.
In the first half of the year, 73 titles of the 212 tracked by the PIB saw ad pages increase or decrease more than 10%, with the rest experiencing smaller changes. Specifically, 33 titles saw ad pages decline 10% or more in the first half of 2011, while 40 grew 10% or more. Some 69 titles saw ad pages grow less than 10%, and 59 experienced ad page declines of less than 10%.
The large number of titles showing little or no growth -- or experiencing only modest declines -- paints a portrait of an industry in stagnation, which may reflect increasing caution among advertisers worried about broader economic conditions.