US Magazines suffer record decline in ad revenues

14 January 2010

NEW YORK: The number of ad pages purchased in US magazines fell by around 25% between 2008 and 2009, according to new data from Publishers Information Bureau (PIB).

PIB said magazines ran around 170,000 ad pages last year, down by 58,000 from 2008, as American consumers reprioritised their spending in the recession.

More generally, print media firms have suffered a decline in readership over recent years due to the growth of free online content.

Magazines carrying content and ads which are broadly compatible with the difficult economic conditions experienced last year performed best in terms of pages retained, the report suggested.

By contrast, more aspirational titles, which tend to attract ads from higher-end brands, were found to have suffered the most.

Condé Nast, owner of Vanity Fair, W and the New Yorker, experienced a precipitous fall in 2009 ad revenues, with page numbers down 11,500 to reach 23,122.

However, Meredith, which publishes a more down-to-earth roster, lost just 450 pages.

Meredith's Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal even posted ad page increases for 2009, while People magazine, published by Time, stayed broadly flat for the year.

Meanwhile, Hachette Filipacci Media's Elle Decor suffered a 34% drop, Fortune, published by Time, was down 36%, and Town and Country and Veranda, both high-end titles published by Hearst, were down by 45.6% and 48.1% respectively.

The 2009 decline in ad pages is the worst recorded by PIB, breaking 2001's record, when page numbers dropped by 17.2%.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by Warc staff