Publishers Information Bureau: Declines slow but don't stop

By Published on .

Well, the rate of decline is slowing.

The average magazine of the 235 audited by Publishers Information Bureau witnessed an ad page decline of 9.9% for the first six months of 2002. The first quarter's drop, reflecting severe advertiser pullback at monthlies in the wake of Sept. 11, was 14.1%.

Results from the first half, though, remain far from a pretty picture. Of the 20 titles that garnered the most ad pages, only three posted an ad-page increase: Meredith Corp.'s Better Homes & Gardens, Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated, and Time4 Media's surging TransWorld Skateboarding. The latter was the sole top-twenty title to post a double-digit gain, vaulting into the top ten for the first time with a 16.9% ad-page increase.

A sign of the malaise gripping the industry may be glimpsed in the performances of key titles that generated much heat in recent years. High-fliers as diverse as Dennis Publishing's Maxim, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia's Martha Stewart Living, and Time Inc.'s In Style all posted ad-page declines. And Hearst Magazines' and Harpo Productions' co-venture O, The Oprah Magazine, which was Advertising Age's most recent Magazine of the Year, saw its meteoric growth stalled, eking out only a 0.8% increase.

Fitness titles aimed at women showed surprising strength in an echo of their first-quarter performance.

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