America’s magazine publishers last year suffered the most acute decline in ad pages since comparable records began in 1977, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

The number of ad pages tumbled 11.7% in 2001, sinking from 269,016 in 2000 to 237,613. Such a slump beats the previous record drop of 10.9% recorded in recession-hit 1991. Total adspend on magazines did not slip quite so fast, falling 4.9% last year to $16.2 billion.

There were declines in all the PIB’s major advertiser sectors: automotive; media and advertising; financial, insurance and real estate; home furnishings and supplies; technology; and retail.

December was a particularly cruel month. Ad pages dropped 19.4% year-on-year to 19,030 (the steepest monthly fall of 2001), while revenue slipped 11.2% to $1.4bn.

“The declines in magazine advertising we’re seeing now can be attributed to the fact that the December monthlies closed their issues around the middle of September,” explained Ellen Oppenbeim, executive vp and chief marketing officer at the Magazine Publishers of America. “The tragic events that occurred during this time made it difficult for advertisers to make media commitments.”

Magazines suffering particularly severe drops in ad pages for 2001 included Rx Remedy (–73.8%), Red Herring (–64.5%) and Fast Company (–53.6%).

Highlighting the rapid descent of the magazine sector from the annus mirabilis of 2000, the title with the most ad pages was Fortune with 4,012 – an honour that a year ago went to the now-defunct Industry Standard with a colossal 7,440.

News source: