OK, that's technically an increase, but after a first half that was "down" 0.2% and a first quarter that was "up" 0.4%, it's safe to say the business is struggling to sell more pages.
Estimated revenue from January through September did grow 4.3%, per the Publishers Information Bureau, but those revenue figures can be even less revealing than the rather opaque ad-page counts. Much of the dollar calculations are pegged to official ad rates -- while many publishers frequently discount pages by undisclosed margins large and small.
Some struggling titles narrowed their ad-page deficits in the new report, including Jane, where pages fell 25.8% through September. That's a big improvement for the Conde Nast Publications book, which was down 41.2% at the half. Conde's The New Yorker, on the other hand, saw pages fall 16.9% in the first three quarters from the period last year -- a slight improvement from a 17.6% slide in the first half.
Celebrity weeklies kept adding pages, most notably the young Bauer Publishing tag team of In Touch Weekly, up 38.6% to 647 pages, and Life & Style Weekly, up 19.2% to 338.64%. Ad pages also grew at American Media's Star, by 9.1% to 752, and Wenner Media's Us Weekly, by 4.8% to 1,375. Time Inc.'s People dropped 0.7% but held onto its enormous lead, printing 2,700 ad pages through September.
Among advertisers in the first three quarters, the drugs-and-remedies players expanded their buys the most, running 13,507 pages for an increase of 12.2%. Retail showed the next-largest gain, running 7.6% more ad pages than appeared in the first three quarters of 2005.
Cutting page buys
The auto industry, true to form this year, kept weighing magazines down through September, cutting page buys to nearly 14,130 for a decline of 12.7%. The good news: Only one other category declined, and barely at that: ad pages for home furnishings and supplies slipped 0.5% through September.
The apparel-and-accessories category racked up the most pages in absolute terms, totaling 17,173 for a gain of 1.4%.