Publishers Information Bureau: Mags post drop for '03

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Magazines posted another full-year ad page loss in 2003, with the 200-odd magazines audited by Publishers Information Bureau posting a 1% ad page drop for the year. This came courtesy of a dismal 4.6% drop in December and below-expectations performance in the fourth quarter of '03, which had the net effect of making the uptick from a three-year-long downturn remain, as ever, maddeningly out of reach.

In the yearend numbers, PIB also restated ad revenue figures for Advance Publications. In the second quarter of `03, Advance began calculating revenue figures based on national, rather than category, ad page rates-a move that, while technically within PIB guidelines, effectively gave its titles big year-over-year revenue increases once it implemented the change in the second quarter of last year. The restatements now apply Advance's calculations to all of 2003 and 2002.

The strongest among the 100 largest magazines were next-generation women's titles-and the most recent winners of Ad Age's Magazine of the Year: Conde Nast's Lucky (up 46.0%) and Time Inc.'s Real Simple (up 40.0%). The weakest: Martha Stewart Living, which saw ad pages slide 34.6%.

Losses lessened at the big three business titles, with Time Inc.'s Fortune and McGraw-Hill Cos.' Business Week posting ad pages declines in the high single digits and Forbes not much further behind, with a 10.8% drop. The slowing setbacks, though, are highly relative, as Fortune's 3,054 ad pages marked less than half of what it notched in 2000, a total drop roughly matched by its two rivals.

A 34.3% surge in ad pages at Dennis Publishing's music title Blender saw it nudge ahead of Miller Publishing's Spin in ad pages. In '03, Blender notched 673 ad pages, while Spin's fell 14.1% to 661.

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