Ad pages in US magazines fell for the seventh successive month in December, according to latest figures from the Publishers Information Bureau.
The number of pages fell 4.6% year-on-year, as only five of the twelve advertiser categories managed a rise. Alcoholic drinks saw the biggest fall, down 22.4%.
However, December magazine ad revenues went up, rising 3.1% to $1.69 billion (€1.34bn; £0.92bn). For the whole of 2003, ad pages fell 1% compared with the year before, while revenues rose 6.3% to $18.35bn.
The news comes as the PIB launches a review of its rules for compiling ad revenue statistics.
In April last year, Conde Nast Publications, Fairchild Publications and Golf Digest (all units of Advance Publications) requested that their revenue data be calculated using a national page rate rather than a category rate.
The change prompted the PIB to restate figures for 2002 in order to enable like-for-like comparison. This revision saw estimated 2002 ad page revenue rise by 2.6%.
As a result, the publishers' body is re-examining regulations that allow magazines to change how their ad income is reported. "It's going to be a question of how can we tweak the rules so there's consistency," said Dom Rossi, chairman of the PIB's Council.
Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff