Magazines Eke Out a Flat 2007

Apparel, Accessories Category Starts to Show Weakness

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Taking after the lackluster results of its previous three quarterly reports, the Publishers Information Bureau's 2007 magazine-ad-revenue report has concluded ad revenue grew 6.1% over last year. But that belies the fact that total ad pages were down 0.6% overall, a less-severe drop than expected from the incremental drop over the year, thanks in part to a slight uptick in the fourth quarter (0.1%).
New York magazine came in third in ad-page gains this year.
New York magazine came in third in ad-page gains this year.

In the report, Ellen Oppenheim, exec VP-chief marketing officer of the Magazine Publishers of America, said: "In the face of a weakened economy, lowered consumer confidence and tighter ad budgets, magazine spending held steady in 2007 and even posted a stronger finish in the fourth quarter."

Seven categories up
Just seven out of the PIB's 12 major advertising categories showed increases in ad pages for the year. The highest gains were claimed by the food and food-products category, up 9.8% since last year, and the runner up, media and advertisement, up 5.2%. Gains fall sharply, with financial, insurance and real-estate ad pages reaching 3.8% over their previous year, while drugs and remedies, and toiletries and cosmetics categories both are hovering around 3%, give or take a decimal. The retail category, along with public transportation, hotels and resorts, reported the weakest gains, up 2.2% and 1.2% respectively.

Any ad-page gains in the above categories were heavily offset by the losses in the remaining five. While apparel and accessories almost broke even (-0.2%), direct-response companies fell 4.7% since last year. The auto industry's economic hard knocks and recent cutbacks on advertisement unsurprisingly translated into a 6.3% loss in ad pages this year. Home furnishings and supplies nearly doubled that loss, at 12.4%, but were outdone by the technology category, down 14.1%.

Some titles thrived in this difficult year. Of particular note is Star, whose ad pages increased by 24.8%. Other notables are Every Day With Rachel Ray, up 59%; Life & Style Weekly, up 39.8%; In Touch Weekly, up 20.2%, and Best Life, up 37.3%.

New York, New York
New York magazine performed particularly well this year, coming in third in ad-page gains this year. According to New York Media Publisher Larry Burstein, the strength of the New York brand was what carried the magazine through the year: "Because we are called New York, we have a real diversity of ad categories to work with, and none of them dominate our ad pages."

He credits the brand's strong demographic profile on the market for offering the most opportunities for advertisers. Panic in the real-estate sectors made for a bit of a rough start, Mr. Burstein explained, until it became obvious the New York area wasn't being affected, then the rest of the year saw steady and incremental increases. "We were pretty optimistic and bullish that we would get a good fifth year in a row." The publisher advises others to stay alert to the changes in the way people are getting their information and to focus on the presentation of their brand. The magazine saw growth in all categories covered by the PIB.

But other titles fared far worse, posting big losses in ad pages. The business/personal finance titles were particularly hard hit, with Fortune down 17.3%; Business Week, down 18.2%, and Money off 16.7%. PC Magazine also showed a poor performance, down 32.4%, as did Entertainment Weekly (down 12.7%) and Travel and Leisure (down 11.7%).
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