STRONG COMPUTER, MEDICINE AD GAINS BOOST PAGES 2.8%: CONDE NAST AND ZIFF-DAVIS REGISTER THE ONLY DROPS IN TOP 10

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Twelve of the 13 major ad categories for magazines showed growth in the first half of 1999. Only the number of direct-response ad pages was down.

Total ad pages were up 2.8%, to 120,068, according to figures released by Publishers Information Bureau. Categories exhibiting the most growth: computers and software, up 21.5% to 8,379.76 ad pages; and medicines and proprietary remedies, up 20.4% to 5,435.08.

While most publishers have benefited from the robust ad environment, two of the top 10 recorded ad-page declines. The ad-page total for No. 2 publisher Conde Nast Publications was off 4.6%, to 12,821.26, mainly due to softness in the beauty and cosmetics business. Five of the company's titles were off more than 15% in ad pages: Allure, down 20.2% to 523.43 ad pages; GQ, off 20.6% to 736.64; Mademoiselle, off 15.7% to 530.90; Self, down 18.9% to 539.03; and Women's Sports & Fitness, off 49.7% to 180.08.

The latter also decreased frequency to six issues; it published just half the issues of the year before.

ONE-TIME SUPPLEMENT

Some of those declines are due to last year's supplement called Currency, which appeared in all Conde Nast titles in April and was not repeated this year.

Ziff-Davis' ad pages were off 7.9% to 4,343.96, attributed to computer hardware and software ad softness.

Fueling the growth in computer advertising as a category was the rise of Internet and online-company advertising, up 115.5% to 2,149 pages. Those ads were spread out across many lifestyle titles, not strictly in computer titles the way this category of advertising traditionally clustered. The subcategory of computer components, which had 1,119.50 ad pages for the first half, was down 18.5% from the same period the year before.

COMPUTER AD PAGES FALL

Computer software ad pages also were off, down 12.8% to 2,160.86 ad pages.

The women's service books, some of the largest magazines in terms of circulation, drew mixed results in the first half. Some, including Hearst Magazines' Redbook, up 12.1% to 581.92 pages, showed marked improvement.

Also on the upswing were the two Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing titles: Family Circle was up 2.3% to 740.67 pages, and McCall's was up 2.4% to 511.39 pages.

Meredith Corp.'s Better Homes & Gardens led the category in pages, up 1.1% to 917.22 pages.

At the other end, Meredith Corp.'s Ladies' Home Journal was down 11.4% to 638.83 pages. Hearst's Good Housekeeping was down 3.7% to 664.24 pages.

DIRECT-RESPONSE SOFTNESS

John Fennel, chief operating officer at Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, attributed the downturn at Woman's Day (down 3.1% to 797.10) to softness in the direct-response category.

Meredith Magazine Group President Christopher Little also cited softness in that business as a reason for Ladies' Home Journal's poor showing.

That title experienced an extremely strong first half in 1998 as well, Mr. Little noted.

In the newsweekly race, Time racked the most pages and the largest gain over last year, up 8.9% to 1,405.26.

Newsweek, up just 0.1%, counted 1,196.86 pages, while U.S. News & World Report

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