Downcast: Mags Tank 9.5% Year-To-Date

RollingStone mag and Time The downward trend in ad pages at consumer magazines continued in September, rounding out dreary third-quarter and year-to-date results. In the nine months from January-September, total PIB ad pages for 36 big magazine publishers dropped 9.5%, compared to the same period last year, according to the Group Publisher's Report from TNS Media Intelligence, which compiles data from the Publishers Information Bureau.

Nine of the 10 top magazine publishers have seen ad pages drop 5% or more; of the remaining 26 magazine groups also tracked by TNS, total ad pages declined at 23, with 15 suffering drops over 5%.

Among the top magazine groups, at Conde Nast, publisher of Glamour, Lucky and The New Yorker, total ad pages are down 9.1% to 26,421; Time Inc., publisher of Time and People, is down 9.3% to 20,413; Hearst, publisher of Cosmopolitan and Redbook, is down 5% to 13,000.



Bonnier, publisher of Outdoor Life and Ski, is down 7.2% to 11,704; Hachette Filipacchi, publisher of Car and Driver and Cycle World, is down 8.5% to 9,296; Meredith, publisher of Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal, is down 17% to 8,107; American Media, publisher of National Enquirer and Country Weekly, is down 5.5% to 5,882; Source Interlink, publisher of Motor Trend and Hot Rod, is down 21.3% to 3,931; and Pace Communications, publisher of in-flight mags, like United's Hemispheres and US Airways Magazine, is down 14.2% to 3,305. In relative terms, the winner was Rodale, publisher of Best Life and Runner's World, which posted a mere 3% loss.

It should be noted that some companies' ad page comparisons include magazines that closed in 2007, making ad page losses appear greater than they actually are. But even without this inflation, the numbers are still grim. For example, Meredith closed Child in March 2007; subtracting this title, total ad pages are down 16%. Hachette closed Premiere in April 2007; excluding this title, Hachette's total ad pages are down 7%. Conde Nast shuttered Jane and House & Garden in July and November, respectively; without these titles, ad pages are down 6%. Time Inc. closed Business 2.0 in July; without this title, ad pages are down 8%.

In the second tier of 26 smaller publishers, for January-September, ad pages at Forbes are down 18.5% to 1,757; the Washington Post Co., publisher of Newsweek, is down 14.6% to 1,510; U.S. News Publishing, publisher of U.S. News & World Report, is down 28.2% to 849; and Vibe Media Group, publisher of Vibe, is down 35.4%.

Again, some of the losses at second-tier publishers were inflated by comparisons that include magazines closed in 2007. For example, Walt Disney Publications closed Disney Adventures in November 2007; without this title, Walt Disney Publications is down 9%. Likewise, Alpha Media--publisher of Maxim and Blender--closed Stuff in October 2007; without this title, Alpha's ad pages are down 13%. Finally, Viacom Networks' 54.6% drop was due partly to the closure in February 2007 of MTV Network's Nick Jr. Family Magazine; removing the defunct title from the equation, however, Viacom is still down about 50% to 138.

The second tier's winners include the Economist Newspaper Group, publisher of the Economist, where ad pages rose 5.9% 1,769; American Airlines publishing, up 1.3% to 1,498; and Mansueto Ventures, publisher of Fast Company and Inc., up 12.6% to 989.

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