Mag Ad Pages Tumble As Rates Rise, Fueling Inflation

Despite falling demand for advertising pages, total magazine advertising revenues appear to be rising at healthy rates, suggestion that national magazine advertisers may be experiencing a significant bout of price inflation. At least that's the picture coming out of data released Thursday by the Publishers Information Bureau, which shows total magazine advertising pages decline 0.5% through the first six months of 2007, but total advertising revenues - derived from reported rate card data - climbing 6.1% for the same period.

While the rate card data likely is an overstatement of actual revenues after discounts are factored into the equation, the PIB's ad revenue estimates are in line with consumer magazine ad tracking from other sources, including TNS Media Intelligence, Nielsen Monitor-Plus and industry forecaster Bob Coen.

In late June, the Universal McCann Senior Vice President estimated that U.S. consumer magazine ad spending was up about 4.1% through the first quarter of 2007, and would like rise 4.0% for the year to $13.595 billion.

Also in June, TNS MI released data indicating that consumer magazines were the fastest-growing "non-digital" consumer ad medium. In an analysis of the TNS MI data, the Magazine Publishers of America indicated that magazines grew faster than any medium except for the Internet during the first quarter of the year, and picked up about a percentage point of total U.S. advertising spending.

If the revenue numbers are accurate, the total ad page volume decline would indicate that magazine advertisers are experiencing ad rate inflation in the double-digit range, and it appears to be accelerating.

During the second quarter of 2007, total reported magazine ad revenues rose 5.2%, but ad page volume fell 1.9%, according to the PIB.

From January through June of 2007, eight major advertising categories saw an increase in spending compared to last year: Drugs & Remedies; Toiletries & Cosmetics; Food & Food Products; Apparel & Accessories; Direct Response; Media & Advertising; Retail; and Public Transportation, Hotels & Resorts. Drugs & Remedies; Food & Food Products; Media & Advertising; and Retail also saw page gains compared to first half 2006.

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