Magazines' Ad-Page Decline Slowed In Third Quarter

Tablet Ads Grow, but Print Ad Pages Remain Most Important Revenue Source

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Ad pages in monthly and weekly magazines declined 1.8% in the third quarter compared with the quarter a year earlier, the Publishers Information Bureau said Wednesday. That's a smaller dip than magazines reported earlier this year, when print ad pages declined 4.8% in the first quarter and 4.5% in the second quarter.

The October issue of Glamour, where ad pages rose 19.6% in the third quarter.
The October issue of Glamour, where ad pages rose 19.6% in the third quarter.

Print ad pages from January through October issues have now dropped 3.8% from the equivalent period in 2012, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

Gains through the third-quarter of 2013 were partly fueled by increased spending from advertisers in the drugs and remedies category, where ad pages grew 5.8%, and food and food products, up 5.5%.

Beyond print, tablet ads in the 58 titles that report to the bureau are up 17.5% in the third quarter and up 22% year-to-date following double-digit percentage increases in both the first and second quarters.

"This is an encouraging trend, with consistent advertising growth in magazine media across platforms," said Mary Berner, president-CEO at the MPA, The Association of Magazine Media, in a statement. "Marketers are shifting dollars in some instances from print to tablet editions, but continue to invest in magazine media. Print is improving and the tablet business is growing."

Print advertising, however, remains the biggest contributor to most magazines' revenue.

Many women's fashion titles turned in ad-page gains in the third quarter, boosted by hefty September issues, perennial magnets for ad pages. Conde Nast's Vogue posted a 4.6% gain. Other Conde titles in the category saw gains, including Glamour, which grew its ad pages 19.6%, and W, up 4.9%.

At Hearst Magazines, Elle was up 2.8% in the quarter, as was Harper's Bazaar, which saw a 9.6% increase. Cosmopolitan, whose editor-in-chief Joanna Coles joined the magazine last September, posted a 7.5% boost. Marie Claire was off 3.8% on the quarter.

Time Inc.'s In Style was up 3.9%. And in a positive sign for Time Inc., the three titles it agreed to acquire from American Express Publishing in September saw gains, with Departures posting an impressive 20.2% increase. Ad pages in Food and Wine and Travel + Leisure each climbed by single digits.

In the men's category, Hearst's Esquire, Rodale's Men's Health and American Media Inc.'s Men's Fitness posted double-digit gains. The Conde-owned GQ and Wenner Media-owned Men's Journal were off slightly. All five magazines in the category -- which posted a strong second quarter -- remain up for the year, according to PIB.

But titles in the women's service category, which had posted a weak second quarter, increased the pace of their declines in the third quarter. Print ad pages at Meredith's Ladies' Home Journal dropped 13%, while Hearst's Good Housekeeping and Woman's Day fell 15.3% and 13.8%, respectively.

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