March Roaring in for Fashion Magazines

Solidly Outperforming Last Year in Second Biggest Ad Month

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- It's still freezing outside fashion magazines' New York offices, but their ad sales teams are already celebrating spring. The March magazines, which along with September represent the most important and thickest issues of each year, are solidly outperforming the results from last March.
The good news for fashion titles belies the story of the magazine business at large, with its flat ad page performance. Fashion advertisers, however, seem to keep finding new value in magazine buys.
The good news for fashion titles belies the story of the magazine business at large, with its flat ad page performance. Fashion advertisers, however, seem to keep finding new value in magazine buys.

Growth at 'Elle'
Elle magazine, for one, budgeted for a 6% ad-page increase over last March, when ad pages totaled 283.2, said Carol A. Smith, senior VP-group publishing director at Elle, which is part of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. Instead this March issue will show a 23% jump for a total of 348.2 pages, she said.

"I thought one more page over last year would have been aggressive," Ms. Smith said. "At what point do you stop reporting double-digit growth?"

Pretty pages
The good news for fashion titles belies the story of the magazine business at large, which has been turning in quarter after quarter and year after year of essentially flat ad pages. Fashion advertisers, however, seem to keep finding new value in magazine buys. It doesn't hurt that beautiful photographs look better on thick glossy pages than on, say, a website.

Harper's Bazaar, part of Hearst Magazines, is running 293.3 ad pages this March, up 19% from the same issue last year. Sibling Marie Claire said its March issues added 13.3 pages, an 11% increase for a total of 135.2. And Cosmopolitan can brag that its March ad pages grew 5% to 143.

Record March for 'Vogue'
At Conde Nast Publications, the most fashion-centric of the big publishers, Vogue expects to turn in a record March issue, up from its March high just above 455 ad pages in 2005. A spokeswoman declined to be more specific, saying the issue hadn't closed yet.

W magazine, also from Conde Nast, closed March at a record 363 pages, up 20% from last year's 303. "The world's leading luxury brands continue to experience growth worldwide and very significantly in the U.S., the biggest luxury market in the world," said Nina Lawrence, VP-publisher. "It's more pages from Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Guess, Ferragamo, Prada, Louis Vuitton, etc."

A slip at 'Allure'
Allure, another Conde title, turned in the only slip in the sector, apparently because last March was a thicker-than-usual 15th anniversary issue and included 11 pages from Allure Bride. Setting aside those Allure Bride pages for an apples-to-apples comparison, Allure will run 130 ad pages this march, down seven.

Nancy Berger Cardone, VP-publisher, said fashion ads were still coming from all sides -- meaning 26 new advertisers including Marc Jacobs, Keds and Dillard's Fashion. "It's all categories," she said. "They're looking for magazines and all media that are really going to deliver from an image standpoint as well as get consumers to the store."

See 'Jane' surge
Conde Nast's Glamour added 34 pages for March, an increase of 21%. And Jane, which runs heavy on fashion and beauty even if it's not in the mold of Vogue or Harper's Bazaar, expanded March pages by 51%. That's important, of course, considering that last year's March showed a 54% drop as advertisers waited out the early months of the new Jane team after the departure of namesake founder and editor Jane Pratt.

At Time Inc., In Style Publisher Lynette Harrison projected this March issue would show 330 pages, a 2% increase over 323 in 2006.
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