Magazine Ads Rise for First Time Since 2007

Glossy print advertising finally shows signs of a rebound

The magazine industry did something on Monday it hasn’t done since 2007 – announce good news.

For the first time in nine quarters, both advertising pages and revenue for consumer magazines tracked by the Publishers Information Bureau posted quarterly gains. Estimated advertising revenue increased 5.7 percent during the second quarter, while ad pages ticked up about a percentage point.

During the second quarter, 130 magazines – more than half the number PIB tracks — increased ad pages, compared to just 15 during the same period in 2009.

The quarterly gains led to an overall increase in revenue of 1.2 percent for the first half, according to PIB figures. But through June, ad pages — usually the more telling statistic, given the discounts publishers often give to frequent advertisers — are down about 4 percent.

While the numbers shouldn’t set off a boozy, industry-wide rave, there was one critical indicator worth celebrating: auto ads — a pre-recession key to the print industry’s ad-based business — posted quarterly double-digit increases in both pages (28 percent) and revenue (41 percent) for the first time since 2007.

In terms of individual titles, there were several of note during the first half.

Fledgling Food Network Magazine topped the list with a fourfold increase in ad pages, per PIB.

Celebrity titles also appeared to get their mojo back: People Style Watch (up 59.7 percent), Life & Style (40.4 percent), OK! (30.4 percent) and Entertainment Weekly (22 percent) each posted solid, double-digit page gains.

ESPN The Magazine, which recently announced plans to move its offices from midtown Manhattan to ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut headquarters, saw a 26.4 percent increase in ad pages. Even beleaguered Playboy, whose iconic founder Hugh Hefner offered to take private on Monday, managed to increase its pages about 20 percent during the first six months of the year.

Among major titles, TV Guide was hit particularly hard, with ad pages falling 22 percent.

Some of the worst performing titles during the first half of 2010 had something in common: fringe sports.

Wakeboarding (-41.1 percent), Skiing (-41.0), Ride BMX (-40.5), Sport Diver (-29.6), Muscle & Fitness (-29.2), Transworld Skateboarding (-27.5) and Snowboarding (-18.2), and Flex (-21.0) posted big ad page percentage losses.

That doesn’t include Spin, which saw pages fall more than 24 percent.

In the newsweekly category, only The Week (10.3 percent) was able post to a significant ad page gain (Time grew its ad pages by less than one percent). Newsweek, which is in the throes of a sale by its Washington Post Co. owners, saw ad pages slip about 10 percent.

Here are the top and bottom 25 magazines in terms of ad page percentage gains during the first half of 2010:

The Top 25

1. Food Network Magazine 445.0%
2. People Style Watch 59.7%
3. Destination Weddings & Honeymoons 53.1%
4. Boy’s Life 50.4%
5. Martha Stewart Weddings 47.2%
6. Technology Review 42.9%
7. Scuba Diving 40.5%
8. Life & Style 40.4%
9. Real Simple 31.1%
10. OK! 30.4%
11. ReadyMade 28.2%
12. Scientific American 27.1%
13. Popular Mechanics 26.6%
14. ESPN The Magazine 26.4%
15. Fitness 25.6%
16. Star 25.0%
17. Southwest Airlines Spirit 24.2%
18. Ser Padres 23.1%
19. Fast Company 23.0%
20. Marie Claire 22.1%
21. Entertainment Weekly 22.0%
22. The Atlantic 21.7%
23. Out 20.3%
24. Wired 20.0%
25. Playboy 19.8%

The Bottom 25

1. Sports Illustrated Kids -44.7%
2. Wakeboarding -41.1%
3. Skiing -41.0%
4. National Geographic Kids -40.8%
5. Ride BMX -40.5%
6. Caribbean Travel & Life -38.4%
7. American Photo -32.6%
8. Jet -30.2%
9. Sport Diver -29.6%
10. Muscle & Fitness -29.2%
11. Transworld Skateboarding -27.5%
12. Ebony -26.0%
13. J-14 -25.8%
14. Country Living -25.1%
15. Discover -24.8%
16. Spin -24.3%
17. Natural Health -24.2%
18. Coastal Living -24.1%
19. TV Guide -22.0%
20. Flex -21.0%
21. M Magazine -20.0%
22. Islands -18.8%
23. Ladies’ Home Journal -18.6%
24. Transworld Snowboarding -18.2%
25. Spa -17.9%

[Source: PIB]

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