The success of two celebrity-soaked women’s weeklies is leading Britain's battered magazine sector out of the advertising drought, according to Nielsen Media Research.

In the wake of a dreadful first half, the consumer magazine market as a whole enjoyed an upward curve in the period July-December 2002, reports Nielsen. Although the year overall saw a 6.8% decline in magazine ad revenues, the full extent of the H1 disaster was underscored by the second half revival where year-on-year revenues rose by nearly 12%.

And carrying the standard for women’s magazines – which in general bucked the ad drought – were celebrity rivals OK! and Hello! The former, reports Nielsen, saw ad revenues rise year-on-year by nearly 25% in H2, while its second half trumped H1 by a whopping 43.8%.

Hello! also enjoyed a year-on-year rise in the second half, albeit by the less spectacular margin of almost 10%, while it too bettered the first half by 36.1%.

Commented Oliver Joyce, press manager at ZenithOptimedia: “The perception of the women’s weekly market has shifted from a downmarket, older audience to one which has the environment and reach of a monthly.” [The latter – the largest sector by aggregated ad revenue – was down by 3.2% in the second half.]

National Magazine Company publishing director Justine Southall added: “The second half of 2001 was a significant time for monthly launches so a boost in that market during that period would inevitably fall away a year later.”

Men’s magazines too increased their revenues in H2, with Nielsen estimating an increase of 30% or better on the first half. But the extent of the ad drought during the first six months was again emphasized by a full year reckoning of minus 5.5%.

Summarized Walker Media managing partner Nick Walker: “With more pressure to justify marketing budgets and hit short-term sales targets, advertisers are shifting towards the weekly market and its high circulations and instant results, rather than monthlies which work better as long-term brand builders.”

Data sourced from: Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff