After surviving, savvy print magazines focus on thriving
Signs say that this year may turn out to be better than the last for magazine publishers counting their advertising pages. Although the bleeding of ad revenue hasn’t stopped, there is evidence that it has started to taper.
According to an article in Advertising Age, Media Industry Newsletter recently reported that for monthly magazines, the latest quarterly figures show a year-over-year loss of ad pages at 5.7 percent from the first quarter of 2009. Last year, the industry saw ad pages drop 21.5 percent. “It’s the smallest decline of the last couple of years,” Kathleen Brogan, print director of Carat, told Ad Age.
There may be more than luck and a recovering recession to thank for this small advertising revival. Annually, the magazine division of the Vocus Media Research Group collects editorial calendars and advertising deadlines, a task that can be arduous due to the volume of magazines out there. This year, however, advertisers appeared to be “on the ball,” said media researcher Kristina Elliott, who noted that the accessibility of advertising materials made the compilation process move faster. “There’s always been a technological lag with print outlets; we’ve seen it in their slow move onto the Internet and their very gradual switchover to using PDFs to share their media kits and editorial calendars. Plus a lot of magazines don’t want to make their ad rates publicly available. But it’s possible that having advertising rates easy for potential advertisers to access outweighs the benefits of holding onto the advertising rates until a serious advertiser asks for it,” she said. “Almost all the outlets we requested from had their rate cards ready – meaning they’ve put a lot of consideration into their 2010 ad rates. Last year it was pretty common for outlets to just tell us the rates in 2009 will be the same as 2008 – obviously they weren’t adjusting for a dip in the economy.”
While Ad Age reported that 94 monthlies dropped ad pages this quarter, approximately 59 grew, including Fitness, Every Day with Rachael Ray, InStyle, Lucky, Marie Claire, Popular Mechanics and Teen Vogue. Some smaller magazines have also had similar triumphs this year, Folio reported. American Cowboy said it saw a 20 percent increase in ad revenue for its February/March issue. “Publisher Bill Garrels credits the growth to several factors, including a pre-Christmas tour to more than 60 advertisers, a magazine redesign (previewed for advertisers via digital edition) and a Web site redesign which in turn is driving interest in print,” wrote Folio writer Matt Kinsman.
Lee Slattery, publisher of Fitness Magazine, said in an e-mail interview that the magazine – which provides a media kit on its Web site – has seen an increase in advertising pages due to multiple initiatives. “Over the last several years, Meredith has made a significant investment in digital applications on both the business and editorial front,” she said. “These investments have enabled Fitness, as well as all our brands to provide state of the art access for our clients to get the information they need as quickly and efficiently as possible. This investment was critical especially given the pace at which media decisions are made today, and the need to have the ability to handle client requests and changes on a 24/7 basis.” In 2009, the publication underwent a redesign that expanded existing features and added new ones. Slattery also credits the publication’s “digital extensions, expanded print coverage and experiential events” as reasons for ad page growth.
Meanwhile, magazines continue to launch and have increased in number according to Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism. He recently reported on his popular Mr. Magazine blog that twice as many magazines were launched this January (56), compared to January 2009 (28). Magazine launches have continued into February and are slated to appear in racks and homes in coming months. Recently, inVocus reported the upcoming launch of Exhale Magazine, California Kayaker and Pro Pickup. Other publications coming soon or already here include Juicy, Light & Delish and Serendipity Magazine.
While it is assuredly an online world, print’s future looks less bleak in the light of this year’s early findings. Husni encourages his readers to “enjoy the early signs of the crop of 2010 and keep on working your magic in ensuring a print future in a digital age.”
— Katrina M. Mendolera
Note to readers: The Vocus Media Research Group lists all top magazines’ editorial calendars and advertising deadlines in the Vocus Database. The following publications do not currently provide content-specific material, but do provide advertising rates and deadlines: AAA Going Places, AARP Bulletin, American Baby, American Medical News, Better Homes and Gardens, Fitness, GQ, Harper’s Magazine, In: Inside Innovation, Marie Claire, Motor Trend, The New York Times Upfront, Parents, Playboy Magazine, Redbook, Self, Shape Magazine, Star and Teen Vogue.
The following publications currently publish no issue-specific content or deadlines: Consumer Reports, Consumers Digest, The New York Times Upfront and Sesame Street Magazine.
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