Dot-com ads help power 5.2% magazine page rise

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For consumer magazines, 1999 was a very good year.

Thanks to a robust ad market, the magazine industry saw a 5.2% jump in total ad pages last year, a healthy increase from its apprehensive 2.6% rise in 1998, according to the latest figures from the Publishers Information Bureau. The totals match figures for 1997, a notable growth year for the industry.

Automotive advertisers contributed most to the boom, with 25,502 ad pages overall, up 5% from 1998.

Computers and software remained the third-highest ad category -- ad pages were up 3.1% to 13,252.

Online/Internet advertising drove category growth, with a tremendous 159.4% increase to 1,499 pages.


"The magazine business got a real rush of business activity [in the fourth quarter], some from dot-com advertisers," said Michael Clinton, VP-chief marketing officer at Hearst Magazines. The publisher saw multimillion-dollar spending in 1999 from more than 20 dot-coms, he said, and expects advertising from online companies to remain strong in 2000.

Online companies also provided a significant share of advertising for last year's PIB chart-topper: McGraw-Hill's Business Week, with 22.9% growth to 5,122 ad pages.

"Dot-coms were clearly a third of all our new advertisers," said Publisher Bill Kupper. He attributes the title's success to the strong stock market and the introduction of the "E-Biz" supplement, which appeared in five issues last year.

Business titles also secured the second- and third-highest totals in ad pages among all PIB-measured consumer magazines. Forbes totalled 5,063 pages (up 7%) and Time Inc.'s Fortune had 4,406 (up 13.0%).

Medicines and proprietary remedies was the fourth-largest ad category, with a rise of 12.2% to 10,272 pages.

Despite predictions that the loosening of federal guidelines on direct-to-consumer ads by pharmaceutical companies would result in more TV and less print spending, Rx drugs remained strong throughout 1999, ending the year up 14.7% to 6,154 ad pages.


Retail, which ranked eighth overall, showed the most growth of the top industries. It jumped 49.2% to 12,786 pages. Apparel retailers fueled the growth and rose 135.5% in pages, to 695.58.

Direct response, the list topper in 1998, steadily declined throughout '99. Ad pages dropped 10.4% to 22,163, but the category still was second-highest in ad pages.

Other soft categories were cosmetics and beauty aids, down 9.3% to 8,464, and ready-to-wear, down 3.6% to 12,771 pages.

Due to strong category growth in retail, most core fashion books performed well despite softness of other staple categories. Conde Nast Publications' Vogue topped fashion titles and ranked ninth overall with 3,168 pages (up 18.1%). Hachette Filipacchi Magazines' Elle followed with 2,226 pages (up 7.7%); Fairchild Publications' W's ad pages increased 4.7% to 2,099; Hearst's Harper's Bazaar was flat at 1,555 (0.8%).


Newcomers in the second-tier fashion books also had a successful year. Time Inc.'s InStyle increased 26.2% to 2,449; Hearst's Marie Claire grew 11.1% to 1,399 pages; and W's little sister Jane jumped 45.2% to 784.87.

Conde Nast's Allure fell 16% to 1,119 and sister Mademoiselle dropped 9.1% to 1,204. Hearst's Cosmopolitan was down 1.7% to 1,981 pages, and Conde Nast's Glamour was flat (0.1%) at 2,081 pages.

Times Mirror Magazines, which publishes mainly men's titles, had a strong showing from financial, travel and sporting goods advertisers. The company posted record growth again this year due to increases from Golf and Today's Homeowner, according to Jason Klein, senior VP-group publisher.

The women's service titles, some of the largest magazines in circulation, showed mixed performances in 1999. Meredith Corp.'s Better Homes & Gardens topped the catetgory again at 1,979, up just 0.6%. Sister title Ladies' Home Journal, which ranked third in ad pages last year, dropped to fifth due to a 10% decrease to 1,350 pages. Its fortysomething spinoff More saw growth, up 233.7% to 413.

Hachette Filipacchi's Woman's Day held at second in ad pages at 1,707, but was flat (0.3%) from 1998. Hearst's Good Housekeeping rose to 1,443 (up 2.1%) and was third-highest in ad pages. Sibling Redbook was sixth, with 1,314 (up 4.4%).


Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's titles showed another year of decline. Family Circle was fourth overall in ad pages but off 1% to 1,376. McCall's ranked seventh and dropped 4.3%, to 996.23.

Newsweeklies saw consistent growth throughout the year. Time Inc.'s Time led yearend totals again in 1999 with 3,139, a 10.6% increase. Washington Post Co.'s Newsweek saw ad pages rise 3.3% to 2,599, and U.S. News & World Report saw a 4.6% gain to 2,059 pages.

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