Ad Pages in Consumer Magazines Off 2.3% in Third Quarter

Seven of Top 12 Ad Categories Spent Less in First Nine Months of '07

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NEW YORK ( -- Magazine ad-page sales have continued to erode as the year has progressed, new figures from the Publishers Information Bureau revealed today. Ad pages came in 2.3% lower in the third quarter than in the equivalent period last year, following a 1.9% decline in the second quarter and a 1% increase in the first, according to the bureau.

From January through September, ad pages fell 1% on declines from seven of the top 12 advertising categories. Technology ad sales took the biggest hit, dropping 14.5% from the first three quarters last year, while home furnishings and supplies dove 13.8% and automotive, direct response, apparel and accessories and other categories declined by single-digit percentages.

Food advertisers up pages
The best news came from the food category, which increased its ad pages from January through September by 8.7%, followed by drugs and remedies' 5.9% gain.

"Year to date, magazines have benefited from the boost in spending from top categories toiletries and cosmetics, drugs and remedies, and food and food products, with support from retail and media and advertising," said Ellen Oppenheim, exec VP-chief marketing officer at the Magazine Publishers of America, in a statement accompanying today's data. "Within the third quarter, food and food products registered the highest gains in both ad revenue and pages. We were also pleased to see the uptick in pages in financial and apparel, after showing softness in previous quarters."

But Ms. Oppenheim acknowledged that not everything is going right for magazines. "Unsurprisingly, economic conditions that affect consumer confidence -- from fluctuating gas prices to a challenged real-estate market -- continue to influence advertisers spending in automotive and home furnishings and supplies, and even the real-estate segment of financial, insurance and real estate," she said. "In addition, legislative scrutiny over pharmaceutical approvals and advertising may have had some bearing on the decline in drugs and remedies during the third quarter, although the category remains the top ad-revenue producer for magazines this year."

Star, TV Guide lead pack
For the first three quarters, magazines posting the largest percentage gains in ad pages included TV Guide, up 26.8%; Star, up 24.8% on reduced guaranteed paid circulation that produced lower rates; Men's Fitness, up 25.3%; Spin, up 22.4%; More, up 18.3%; Men's Health, up 17.2%; Vanity Fair, up 16.3% off weak comparisons in 2006; Sound & Vision, up 16.4%; National Geographic Traveler, up 16.7%; Men's Journal, up 16.5%; Metropolitan Home, up 16%; Elle D├ęcor, up 15.2%; and Harper's Bazaar, up 13.8%.

Big losses were found at PC Magazine, down 33.3%; Ski, down 29.4%; the Advocate, which gave up 29.2%; Out, down 21.4%; Boy's Life and Skiing, which each lost 20.3%; Money, down 20.5%; Vibe, down 19.9%; National Geographic Adventure, down 18.8%; Fortune and Southern Accents, both down 18.6%; BusinessWeek and Travel & Leisure, each down 16.4%; Country Home, off 15.2%; Latina, down 14.6%; and CosmoGirl, down 14%.
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