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Consumer magazines finish 2007 flat

Year 2007 started off looking poorly for consumer magazines, and it pretty much ended that way, with ad pages down slightly for the year, falling by 0.8 percent from the prior year's total, to 251,577.74, when Sunday magazines are included in the roundup, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

By and large, 2007 was a year of retrenchment for America's magazine publishers as they struggled against further incursions by the internet, in terms of reader and advertiser defections. There were fewer launches but more closings, some of them major titles, such as Condé Nast's House & Garden, founded more than 100 years ago.

Among major ad categories, Drugs & Remedies, the leader, showed positive growth, at a 3.1 percent increase in ad pages, but that was far below the 13.3 percent increase in pages drug companies bought in 2006.

Automotive, meanwhile, continued to cut spending, trimming its pages by another 6.3 percent, following a 13.8 percent decline in 2006 and a 7.1 percent decline in 2005. Total pages for 2007 came in at 18,353 versus 22,512 in 2005, when automotive was the top ad category. It finished 2007 in fifth place.

Total ad spending in terms of dollars was up 5.9 percent, to $27,498,949,143, based on publishers' rate cards before discounting.

Among the 23 ad categories tracked by Media Life, just over half, 12, showed gains over 2007, versus 11 that fell in ad pages.

The sharpest declines were seen in the long-troubled teen category, which has seen several titles fold. Teen magazines were down 24.4 percent in ad pages over 2007. Of the four remaining titles, only two showed gains, J-14, up 10 percent, and Teen Vogue, up 0.8 percent

The business category was off 11.7 percent for the year, continuing a trend of ad page losses that go back to the ad recession that set in in late 2000. Time Inc.'s Business 2.0 closed during the year.

Among the big three, Forbes saw the least decline in pages, off 4.8 percent. BusinessWeek fell by 18.2 percent and Fortune was not far behind at 17.3 percent. Perhaps ironically, the only two business titles to see gains were Inc. and Fast Company, two long-distressed titles that have gotten an infusion of capital and creative energy under their new owner, Mansueto Ventures. Fast Company was up 20.6 percent and Inc. rose 6.4 percent.



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