Fashion Mags Buoy Print's Uneven 2013

Print Ad Pages Across All Magazines Fell 4.1%

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In the world of print magazines, fashion remains a stalwart.

Vogue, a Conde Nast-owned title, reported a 3.5% boost in print ad pages in 2013.
Vogue, a Conde Nast-owned title, reported a 3.5% boost in print ad pages in 2013.

Top fashion titles such as Vogue, Glamour, Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, InStyle and People StyleWatch all finished 2013 with growth in print ad pages, according to the Publishers Information Bureau, which released its end of year numbers Thursday.

However, the industry as a whole saw print ad pages decline 4.1% last year compared with 2012, said the PIB report, which tracked 207 magazine titles.

The comparison is slightly skewed, however, because the titles PIB tracked in 2013 are not exactly the same as those monitored in 2012, according to Mary Berner, president and CEO of MPA – The Association of Magazine Media. When that adjustment is made, she said, full-year data shows ad pages were essentially flat, down just 0.7%.

Beyond print, ad units in the 69 magazine iPad editions tracked by PIB climbed 16% in 2013 compared with the prior year. Still, print advertising remains the biggest contributor to most magazines' revenue.

The numbers point to an uneven recovery for print magazines, which saw ad pages nosedive in 2009. Fashion titles have seen consistent gains in ad pages in recent years, while magazines in the men's, food and shelter categories turned in a strong 2013. The industry was able to slow the bleeding from 2012, when pages were off 8.2%.

"Certain categories are rebounding quite nicely," said Ms. Berner.

Among the fashion titles, Hearst-owned Harper's Bazaar led the pack with a 12.6% increase compared with last year. Fellow Hearst titles Marie Claire and Elle reported more modest gains of 2.9% and 1.9%, respectively.

Conde Nast's Glamour also saw a modest uptick of 2.8%, with sibling title Vogue reporting a 3.5% boost.

Vogue was also among the thickest titles, with 2,691.43 total ad pages, though it wasn't enough to beat Time Inc.'s InStyle magazine, which ran 2,810.83 ad pages, good for a 4.7% increase over last year.

People StyleWatch, another Time Inc.-owned title, reported an increase of 1.7%.

Categories fueling the gains were food and food products, up 1.2% in ad pages; drugs and remedies, up 2.1%; home furnishings and supplies, up 1.9%; and toiletries and cosmetics, up 1.2% in pages.

Some of the increases were felt in food magazines, where Conde Nast's Bon Appetit posted a 22.3% gain in print ad pages. Meredith's Eating Well saw a whopping 61.1% gain. Bonnier's Saveur was up 6.5%. And Food Network Magazine, jointly held by Hearst and Food Network, was essentially flat, though it turned in 1,043.74 total pages, the most in the category.

Several shelter titles also posted significant gains, including HGTV, a Hearst and Scripps Interactive Network title that rolled out officially with its June/July 2012 issue, up 176.6%; Dwell, up 15.5%; Conde Nast's Architectural Digest, up 2.5%; and Hearst's Veranda, up 7.5%.

Men's titles also turned in a strong year, as Ad Age reported last month.

But a range of other titles, especially many of the weeklies, posted losses. Time Inc.'s Time magazine declined 11.4%; Dennis Publishing's The Week dropped 19.7%; and The Economist fell 16.1%.

Categories that saw the biggest declines were apparel and accessories, down 2.3%; retail, off 13%; automotive, down 6%; and travel (hotels and resorts), off 12%.

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