MAGAZINE AD GAINS SOLID IN '98, BUT THEY WERE NO '97: AD PAGES UP 2.6%, CONSIDERED GOOD IN LIGHT OF MARKET GYRATIONS

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The magazine industry ended 1998 up 2.6% in ad pages, according to figures released by the Publishers Information Bureau. That's not nearly as dramatic as the previous year's 5.2%, but then 1998 had a lot to live up to, given that 1997 was one of publishing's best.

With last year's stock market jitters, many publishers ended up breathing a sigh of relief with the final numbers.

Magazine ad pages were affected by TV spending hikes caused by Food & Drug Administration rule changes regarding direct-to-consumer ads of Rx drugs. Medicines and proprietary remedies ad page counts were off 2.2% from the previous year, to 9,270.68. During '97, the category saw a 23.9% increase in magazine ad pages. Within the total category, ad pages for prescription drugs were down 12.8%, to 5,385.04.

Computers and software, a category that exhibited slight softness in 1997 (down 1.7%), was off 11.7% for '98, to 16,113 pages. Even with that decline, the computer category ranked third in ad pages. Direct-response advertising, with 25,917.81 pages (up 4.9%), tallied the most ad pages, followed by automotive with 23,278.42 pages (down 6%).

The travel category -- listed by PIB as public transportation, hotels and resorts -- was flat at 13,398.66 pages but was the fourth-largest category in ad page volume.

TRAVEL'S BRIGHT SPOTS

There were bright spots in travel, including a 10.1% increase in domestic hotel and resort ad pages, rising to 3,744.77; and cruise ship travel ad pages, up 13.8% to 949.14. Airline ad page volume was off 12.2% to 689.22 for domestic companies and 16.8% to 729.56 for foreign marketers.

Cosmetics and beauty ad pages were down 2.3%, to 8,817.06. While ad pages for face cleansers and makeup removers were up a whopping 76.1%, to 599.67, and skincare creams up 2.5% to 1,969.46, ad pages for scents and fragrances were off 17.2%, to 2,380.03.

Conde Nast Publications, with its large number of women's titles, was hit hard by the beauty-category softness, said Catherine Viscardi Johnston, exec VP-corporate sales, down 5% in pages across the company. "Beauty and Conde Nast are intrinsically linked together," said Ms. Viscardi Johnston, who noted the publisher typically carries a larger share of beauty pages than any other.

Nevertheless, the company still finished the year up 8% from 1997, with 27,719 ad pages, according to internal counts. Its strong categories were financial services, import autos and fashion.

At Times Mirror Magazines, publisher of predominantly men's titles, the strong categories were travel, pharmaceutical advertising and retail, said Jason Klein, senior VP-group publisher.

The company is ending the year up in pages thanks to strong double-digit increases from three of its large-circulation titles: Field & Stream (up 10.8%); The Sporting News (up 19.9%); and Golf (up 15%).

SEVEN SISTERS MIXED

The Seven Sisters had a mixed year. Meredith Corp.'s Better Homes & Gardens held its lead with 1,936.89 ad pages (up 0.6%), while sibling title Ladies' Home Journal ended the year in third place with 1,500.85 ad pages (up 1.9%).

Hachette Filipacchi Magazines' Woman's Day had the second-most ad pages in the women's service sector, at 1,702.11, down 6% from the year before. Hearst Magazines' Good Housekeeping was fourth with 1,423.48 ad pages (up 5.7%), while sibling Redbook was in sixth place with 1,258.86 ad pages (up 3.6%).

Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's titles were both down in ad pages: Family Circle ended the year in fifth place with 1,390.27 ad pages (down 2.6%), while McCall's 1.040.89 ad pages (down 1.1%) ranked it seventh.

Time Warner's Time led the newsweekly category with 2,837.09 ad pages (up 2%), while Washington Post Co.'s Newsweek was down 4.9%, to 2,517.23. U.S. News & World Report was down 7.4%, to 1,967.51 ad pages.

Sunday magazines as a category were down 6.8%, to 5,097.39 ad pages.

The New York Times Magazine led with 3,173.69 ad pages (up 1.9%). The Los Angeles Times Magazine registered a 32.5% decline in pages, to 674.13.

Parade, with 636.43 ad pages was down 6.7%, while USA Weekend was off 9% to

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