A slower-than-expected fourth quarter put full-year 2003 in negative territory, which meant last year marked the third consecutive year of ad-page losses for consumer magazines. Unlike `02 and `01, though, where business and tech titles were walloped, there was more consistency in category showings. The bright spot: Parenting, up 11.7% for the year. The bete noire: business magazines, down 6.1%. Decent showings were also turned in by the general-interest niche (up 7.5% in `03), city and regional titles (up 8.4%), and the broad women's category, which posted an ad-page increase of 5.7% despite a host of circulation woes across a number of blue-chip teen and women's-service magazines. One key dynamic to watch for in 2004 is whether the decline has ceased for the business books (and through February there was good news on that front from Forbes and Time Inc.'s Fortune, but bad news from McGraw-Hill Cos.' Business Week and Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's Fast Company). January and February 2004 showed falloffs from `03, in a continuation of a trendline that began in June 2003. Wary publishers, who see little daylight in the first or second quarter of 2004, now look to this year's second half for a possible turnaround.
Linage is given in paid ad pages. (X) represents the number of times published each year; publications are monthly unless otherwise specified. Sectional linage is prorated to circulation of regional editions. A. Figures do not reflect comparable number of issues. B. Incomplete report, not included in group total and percentage change. C. Figures supplied by Publishers Information Bureau. D. New magazine, comparable results not available; not included in total group and percentage change. E. Current time periods include a special issue. Ad Age makes no attempt to verify figures and is not responsible for inconsistencies or errors.
Complied by Brooke Capps