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It's Another Sweet September for Fashion Mags

Vogue, Others Fatter Than 2006, but Ad Pages for Rest of Year Remain Uncertain

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Fall issues, and September in particular, have again proved golden for many magazines this year. That's good news for publishers, whose bosses are by now getting a pretty good idea how 2007 as a whole will turn out. Those big issues will likely help the industry end the year on par with 2006.
Vogue and its Conde Nast sibling W benefited from spending in the accessories category.
Vogue and its Conde Nast sibling W benefited from spending in the accessories category.

The September Vogue shot up like the champion should, clocking 727 ad pages for a gain of more than 100 -- helped only a bit by this year's Condé Nast-wide Fashion Rocks insert, which is 15% thicker than last year's. The number of ad pages ranges, depending on the title, from 75 to 100.

Not surprisingly, given the spending strength in the accessories category this past year, the other fashion books were fat as well. W, Vogue's sibling at Condé Nast, racked up 477 ad pages, improving over last September by 85 pages. Elle, part of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., nabbed 398 ad pages for September, up 27 from last September, according to the Media Industry Newsletter. Time Inc.'s In Style matched Elle at 398, a gain of 33 pages. Harper's Bazaar from Hearst is running 360 ad pages in its September tome -- the largest issue the title's ever published -- for a gain of about 48 pages. And Glamour, though not as strict a fashion play as the others, has 285 ad pages in September, up 10.

Important months ahead
But some of the most notable successes are highlighting the difficulties persisting for magazines -- reminding us that October, November and especially December are as uncertain and crucial as ever.
Chris Mitchell, VP-publisher at Details
Chris Mitchell, VP-publisher at Details

Details, for example, is publishing its largest September issue ever, with nearly 259 pages. Impressive as that sounds, that's just four more pages than last year's issue. And October will come in about 40 pages shy of last year.

"The market felt a little soft this October," said Chris Mitchell, VP-publisher. "When we look at new business, which is just one of our indicators, we have about 50 pages of new business in October. Last October we did about 100."

Details will still beat last year's total comfortably, helped along by a new holiday issue being published Nov. 6, giving the title 11 rather than its usual 10 issues for 2007. "The only real question mark for me is how does the market hold up for December," Mr. Mitchell said. "Is it a market where people are looking for ways to spend money or to pull it away? In our case a lot of it's driven by the retail environment."

Soft retail
A little retail iffiness is already on display at Seventeen and CosmoGirl, which have a shot at matching last year's ad-page totals, according to Michael Clinton, exec VP-chief marketing officer and publishing director at Hearst Magazines. "The beauty and fashion business is up, but the retailers were softer in 2007 than we would have liked," he said. "I think that's going to come back in the fourth quarter and the spring."
Michael Clinton, exec VP-chief marketing officer and publishing director at Hearst Magazines
Michael Clinton, exec VP-chief marketing officer and publishing director at Hearst Magazines

Elsewhere at Hearst, Cosmopolitan's September issue falls 19 pages short of last year's. But Mr. Clinton said its October issue is up more than 20 pages.

For the year, Mr. Clinton predicted that magazines will continue to grow despite a new-media maelstrom outside their pages. Of course, there are paper- and postage-cost increases coming in 2008, he noted. "So a growing ad picture is good."
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