Through the first three quarters, ad pages rose a healthy 5% to 127,052.3 and revenues climbed 10% to $5.8 billion compared with the first nine months of 1993.
The recovery is across the board, paced once again by auto advertising. "Business is just very good," said Bruce Burton, ad director of the Petersen Magazine Network whose Motor Trend and Hot Rod saw respective ad page increases of 67.3% and 29.3% over last September. "When business is good, the auto makers, particularly the domestic automakers, really spend to capture share of market."
Leon Mandel, VP-publisher of AutoWeek (owned by Advertising Age parent Crain Communications), noted a 36.3% jump in ad pages for September and characterized 1994 as "an exceptionally good year" for new car lines.
"There are 24 new cars and 11 new light trucks being introduced in '95 and that's a bonanza," said Mr. Mandel.
Other auto magazines also posted hefty ad page gains. Automobile was up 43.7% for the month and 30.5% year to date. Car & Driver saw a 29.7% jump in September ad pages and a 29.1% increase for the nine months, while sister publication Road & Track posted gains of 36.1% for the month and 31.2% year to date.
Since most new model year advertising traditionally runs in October issues, the best may be yet to come for publishers.
For the women's fashion/beauty category, where September is the crucial month, it now appears the big titles are finally joining the rest of the consumer magazines in the recovery.
No. 1 Vogue jumped 5% in September, chalking up 433.8 ad pages. Although Publisher Ron Galotti only took over in March-with more than half the selling season gone-it now appears the second-half rebound might be strong enough to bring the Conde Nast flagship home with an ad page gain for the year. Through the first nine months, Vogue's pages are now down just 3%.
The biggest buzz in the fashion publishing world came when Elle Publisher Diane Silberstein resigned to become publisher of The New Yorker.
This year, the Hachette Filipacchi flagship regained its status as the No. 2 book in the fashion field, nosing out Harper's Bazaar. In September, Elle's pages were up 7.2%; for the nine months they rose 13.3%.
If, as expected, Elle goes outside for a successor to Ms. Silberstein, that could set the stage for a very combative 1995 selling season in this fiercely competitive niche.
Overall, five of the top 10 categories showed above-average increases in September. James Guthrie, exec VP-marketing for the Magazine Publishers of America, said, "the September performance for food products was particularly encouraging because it had been running negative year to date. Overall, it is looking extremely encouraging."