Magazine A-List 2008

Digital Climbs as Ad Pages Slip

Time Inc. Takes Three of Top Five Spots; Advance Leads in Overall Pages; PC World Earns Biggest Share From New Platforms: 38%

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CHICAGO ( -- Magazine publishers trudged through a sputtering economy, holding ad pages comparatively steady while making solid digital gains.

Magazine 300 ad pages in 2007 slid 1.3%, while circulation revenue fell 1.2%. But U.S. magazine employment last year edged up 0.7%.

Ad pages for consumer magazines monitored by Publishers Information Bureau slipped 0.8% in the first six months of 2008. Measured magazine ad spending dropped 1.8% in the first half, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Magazine employment, though, is up 0.8% vs. last year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The world is flat graph
1. Annual averages for 2000 to 2007; average for January to July 2008. Sources: Ad Age Magazine 300, Ad Age DataCenter analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data

Magazine 300:

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Rankings, Top 10s and Breakout Charts from AdAge's DataCenter
One key positive sign: digital. As part of the 19th-annual Magazine 300 survey, Ad Age asked publishers what percentage of a magazine's total actual 2007 net revenue came from digital/internet/wireless. Among the 48 magazines that reported figures, digital share ranged from 0.3% to 38%. The median digital share for 2007 was 9.75%.

That was nearly double the digital share Ad Age reported in last year's survey. The 2006 median digital share was 5% for the 48 magazines that disclosed digital figures a year ago.

Compensating print losses
Digital gains help make up for print-page losses. International Data Group's PC World grew its digital share to 38%, highest on the survey and up from 32% in 2006; print pages fell 6.8%.

Tech magazines are ahead of the curve on digital. But consumer magazines are seeing digital gains.

Time Inc.'s Money, Fortune and Fortune Small Business each reported that 24.5% of 2007 revenue came from an aggregate website, That's nearly double what they reported for 2006 (12.5%).

Time Warner said online advertising accounted for 7% of Time Inc.'s 2007 ad revenue.

The industry, though, remains hugely reliant on ad pages.

Flat pages
Magazine 300 ad pages -- and employment to boot -- crashed after the bubble burst in 2000 and have remained essentially flat.

Magazine 300 gross revenue last year rose 4.7% to $38.6 billion. Magazines, to be clear, didn't take that to the bank. Ad Age's gross revenue estimates are largely drawn from rate cards for advertising and standard subscription rates for circulation; advertisers and subscribers generally buy at heavily discounted rates.

Time Inc. commanded three of the top five spots in 2007, leading the Magazine 300 with People (No. 1 for the eighth consecutive year), Sports Illustrated at No. 3 and Time at No. 4. Meredith Corp.'s Better Homes and Gardens claimed the No. 2 spot, while Advance Publications' Sunday magazine Parade rounded out the top five.

Time Inc. had 22 magazines in the ranking, representing 9% of ad pages. Advance, Condé Nast's parent company, had 26 titles in the ranking, accounting for 12.2% of ad pages.

People, with 3,889 pages, was the No. 1 magazine in 2007 ad pages. The New York Times Magazine came in a close second with 3,881 pages.

Expansions amid decline
Although headlines have been rife with the woes of the newspaper industry, some stalwarts are sniffing for ad dollars with slick new magazines.

Following the success of The New York Times' T magazine, News Corp.'s Wall Street Journal in September launched WSJ, a fashion-magazine supplement to the weekend Journal. The Washington Post this fall will launch Fashion Washington, a high-end fashion magazine.

Tribune Co.'s Los Angeles Times launched its Sunday magazine, LA, in September. LA replaced the Los Angeles Times Magazine, which closed earlier this year.

Other magazine closings in the past year include Condé Nast's Golf for Women and House & Garden, Walt Disney Co.'s Disney Adventures, Ziff Davis Media's Games for Windows, and IDG's InfoWorld.

The closings continue. In the wake of the decimated housing market, Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.'s Home magazine will shut its doors after the October issue.