Magazines Ad Pages Flat in First Quarter

'Martha Stewart Living' Turns in Strong Performance, While 'Parenting' Is Down

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NEW YORK ( -- It's been clear for a couple months that magazines were enduring an appalling start to the year, but the release of official ad-page counts by the Publishers Information Bureau today showed that the damage to the overall category was offset by a few strong performers.
See the full Top 100 Magazines data chart.
See the full Top 100 Magazines data chart.

Flat first quarter
Total ad pages for the first quarter were flat at 51,381.9, a gain of just 0.4% compared to the first quarter of 2005, according to PIB.

Among those hardest hit were Time Inc.'s Parenting with a 20.5% decline in ad pages from the first quarter of 2005, while Motor Boating magazine, part of the Time4 Media division of Time Inc., fell by a full 24.2%.

Elle Girl, which was just abruptly closed by Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., delivered a 14.2% ad-page gain. Mother ship Elle was also up an impressive 15.4%.

Teen titles solid
Most of the teen category was solid. Hearst's Cosmo Girl increased ad-pages 12.6% while Conde Nast's Teen Vogue increased 6.5% and Seventeen gained only 1.2%. Time Inc.'s Teen People decreased ad-page sales 6.3% from a year ago.

Among the big winners in total pages sold: Bride's magazine, with 1,158.4 pages, up 24.3% from the first quarter a year earlier, and Bridal Guide, with 934.3 pages, up just 0.1% over the prior period. The New York Times Magazine also notched up nearly 970 ad pages, for a gain of 14.5%.

Among broader, standalone consumer titles, Time Inc.'s People led the pack with 826.7 pages, but even this behemoth saw pages drop 5.9% during January, March and February. Sibling title In Style followed next, with 703.8 pages, down 2%.

Biggest gainers
There were plenty of bright spots in the largely overcast landscape. The biggest gainers in percentage terms included Martha Stewart Living, where ad pages grew 80.9%. Some enthusiast titles also held up well, like Time4 Media's Transworld Surf, where ad pages grew 20.6% over the first quarter of 2005.

Muscle & Fitness expanded ad pages by 46.4% and Star magazine produced 13.5% growth -- good news for parent company American Media. (The bad news for American Media: National Enquirer ad pages fell 14.4%.)

It was a solid quarter for plenty of Conde Nast Publications titles, with a 32.1% gain at Wired, 16.3% more pages for Conde Nast Traveler and 6.9% bump up at Architectural Digest. Other Conde titles struggled; The New Yorker's ad pages fell 14.9% and Vanity Fair's ad pages dropped 10.5%.

At Hearst, Esquire turned in a 28.6% improvement in ad pages, while O The Oprah Magazine was up 10.8%. Cosmopolitan was off 6.5% in ad pages, while Redbook was down 5.9% and Marie Claire, which switched editors today, was essentially flat, gaining just 0.7% in ad pages. Harper's Bazaar was also flat, but Good Housekeeping was down 6%.

Independent regionals New York Magazine and Texas Monthly also continued their recent momentum, as each improved its ad-page total by 15.5%.
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