Mag Lag Continues, Posts Eighth Consecutive Month Of Downward Ad Volume

The magazine business continued to tread water in January, with ad pages declining for the eighth consecutive month. But while the page results weren't especially encouraging, ad revenue snapped up sharply, once again fueling hope that the long-awaited magazine revival is in progress.

According to data released Tuesday by the Publishers Information Bureau, magazines ran 12,728.54 ad pages last month, down 0.3 percent from January 2002. Ad revenue grew by 10.4 percent over the same period last year, to $1.02 billion.

"The data show the magazine industry holding its own against a strong January in 2003," stated Magazine Publishers of America Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer Ellen Oppenheim.

Of the 12 ad categories monitored by PIB, seven saw page increases. While public transportation/hotels/resorts led the way with a 21 percent gain, the category probably benefited from comparisons with a weak January 2003.

Surprisingly, automotive--the biggest ad category in magazines, as the MPA is quick to remind us--hit the brakes in January, slumping 3.7 percent against the year-ago period.

Bridal Guide set the ad-page pace with 413.6, followed by Bride's (338.5), In Style (278.5), and TV Guide (250.5). Among the top percentage gainers over January 2003 were Scientific American (up a whopping 278 percent, to 64.8 pages from 17.2), Playboy (114.6 percent, 99.5/46.4), Yachting (58.9 percent, 187.2/117.8), and Seventeen (57.3 percent, 82.1/52.2).



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