Thursday, January 10, 2013

Consumer magazine ad pages fall 8.2% in 2012, extending publisher's losing streak

The year end Publishers Information Bureau (PIB) report did not hold much good news for consumer publishers, with ad pages for 2012 ending 8.2 percent below 2011 levels. The last time publishers enjoyed a bump in ad pages was 2010 when pages eked out a small gain.

Worse, ad pages that fell dramatically at the start of the financial crisis have not recovered at all.

For the fourth quarter of 2012 ad pages fell 7.3 percent, though these numbers are always a bit skewed by magazine closures such as Los Angeles Times Magazine and Spa, among others.

Big losers in the quarter, by percentage, included Boating, Caribbean Travel & Life, The Economist, Family Circle, Natural Health, O-The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Saveur, Veranda and Working Mother. Magazines such as National Geographic and Martha Stewart Living, while losing a smaller percentage of ad pages, still lost the most actual pages, with huge ad page drops that will result in big losses of revenue.

The B2B report for trade publishers lags behind the PIB report by several months, with final 2012 probably to arrive in April.

The problem most magazine publishers face is that ad page losses are compounding, with losses occurring in most years in the last decade. Since 2008, consumer publishers have seen their ad pages drop by over 30 percent.

The PIB also reports revenue as part of its research, though as a publisher I have always found the data far less reliable.