Revenue from advertising in most cases was obtained from monitoring services, including Publishers 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 page mix of retail and general advertising.
Oddities persist with any methodology. Growing 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 Audit Bureau of Circulation, BPA International and directories on consumer and business publications from Standard Rate & Data Service. Data are confined to North America.
In a few cases where current-year circulation was not available, 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 usually comprises amounts allocated to the publication from membership fees. Magazines receive a portion of the fee, the rest of which is used for administration, lobbying efforts and perks.
The American Legion, for example, earmarks $2.50 from membership dues (2,946,123 members) to its American Legion magazine. National Rifle Association offers a slightly different twist; it assigns $15 of its $35 annual membership fee to American Hunter and American Rifleman. A member selects either magazine when paying dues and can get the other for $15. This is the same "allotment" as in '93 when dues were $25.
AA lists only single magazines, although multiple magazines sold in combination are borderline "single" publications. Such is the case with Dell Puzzle Magazine Group's 30 puzzle magazines and its theme publications Ellery Queen Mystery and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery.
Separately, none is large enough to make the list but as a group the puzzle publications generate some $40 million in revenue and the mystery magazines more than $12 million.
Any methodology, no matter how carefully crafted, would be hard pressed to accommodate Cable Guide, published by TVSM. In this report, the publication's ad revenues include modest tallies from sister weekly publication Total TV, while none of Total TV's circulation contributes to Cable Guide's revenue from circulation-far the larger revenue stream.
The seed of this quirkiness lies with how TVSM allows the magazines to be tracked by the monitoring services: PIB (on the ad side) and BPA International's ConsumerTrac (circulation).
Data were collected on more than 500 leading magazines to obtain an accurate listing of the top 300. Each magazine reviewed the data used to generate gross revenue.
Most magazines build revenue from non-advertising and circulation sources, but this is not included in totals. Other revenue streams can be substantial, however. Old Farmer's Almanac, which did not make the 300 list, collects 15% of its gross revenue from licensing, mail order and premium/specialty advertising.M
This report was compiled by the Advertising Age Profile Issues staff: R. Craig Endicott, Kevin Brown, Susen Taras, Maria Maslanka and Kenneth Wylie.