Revenue from advertising in most cases was obtained from monitoring services, includingPublishers Information Bureau, Competitive Media Reporting, PERQ Research Corp., AGRICOM, Space Analysis Systems, and the monthly Ad Age Consumer Linage Report.
For most magazines not monitored, ad pages were multiplied by their one-time b&w rate, an industry standard. A "phantom" rate was created for several unmonitored Sunday newspaper-distributed magazines (such as the Chicago Tribune Magazine) to reflect the ad page mix of retail and general.
Oddities persist with any methodology. Growth publications may change rates several times a year. In such cases, AA uses a rate that when multiplied by total ad pages most approximates actual gross ad revenue for the year.
Data to generate revenue from the two components of circulation-subscription and newsstand sales-were obtained from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, BPA International and Standard Rate & Data Service's directories on consumer and business publications. Data are confined to North America where possible.
In few cases where current circulation was not listed, magazines either provided it directly or AA estimated circulation by applying a growth figure tied to the magazine's genre.
For association publications, circulation revenue comprises amounts allocated to the publication from membership fees and nonmember subscriptions. The American Institute of CPAs, for example, earmarks $25 from each membership fee to its Journal of Accountancy. A subscription costs $40 each for some 29,000 nonmembers.
AA lists single magazines with the exception of Cable Guide & Total TV. In 1992, parent TVSM folded two-year-old weekly Total TV into its monthly Cable Guide to sell them as one until Total TV's distribution and market penetration will allow it to break away from Cable Guide, says the company.
A case could be made for publications tied to group ad buys, such as Dell Puzzle Magazine Group's 30 puzzle magazines or its theme publications Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Independently, none make the list, but as a group the puzzle publications generate some $40 million in revenue and the mystery magazines, more than $12 million.
Data were collected on 500 leading magazines to ensure an accurate listing of the top 300. Each magazine reviewed the data used to generate revenue.
AA omitted other revenue (nonadvertising/circulation) from totals because response for the information was spotty. "Other" revenue streams can be substantial, however. Old Farmer's Almanac, which did not make the 300 list, collects 15% of its total revenue from sources such as licensing, mail order and premium/specialty advertising.
This report was compiled by the Advertising Age Profile Issues staff, R. Craig Endicott, Kevin Brown, Susen Taras and Richard Trout.