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Magazine ad pages plunge in March

2009.02.17

In a sign of the extraordinary pressure the economy is putting on all manner of marketers, the number of advertising pages for monthly magazines in March suffered a 26% plunge, to 10,678, according to Media Industry Newsletter. The trade publication will release its complete tally on Monday.

Even longtime observers can’t remember a time when ad pages have fallen as steeply.

“I doubt if the Great Depression was as bad,” said Steven Cohn, editor in chief of MIN, who has been covering the magazine industry for 22 years.

For the first quarter, the total number of pages came to 26,167, a 22% drop from the same period a year ago.

“Until we see indicators of people going back to stores and restaurants being crowded, this is going to continue,” Mr. Cohn said. “People have to start spending money for this to change.”

The downturn affected nearly all titles, but some magazines were hurt more than others. The struggling music magazine category was hit particularly hard.

March ad pages dropped 63% at Blender and 64% at Vibe. Vibe Media Group announced this week that it was cutting its flagship publication’s frequency to 10 issues a year from 12 and its circulation rate base—the number of copies guaranteed to advertisers—25% to 600,000.

Some magazines did manage to keep their heads above the devastation.

Ad pages rose 33% at muscle magazine Flex and 25% at Muscle & Fitness. Pages for Reader’s Digest were up 2%.

 

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