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Print: General Interest Consumer Mags Bled Ad Pages in Q1, Niche Pubs Fared Better

Published on April 13, 2012

Q1 2012 was “disappointing” for the magazine industry, as Folio describes it; and “lackluster” by Ad Age—depending on the title. Some niche publications like Architectural Digest, Boating and Latina are jumping for joy, as are Traditional Home and Dash.

According to the latest Publishers’ Information Bureau stats, ad pages among computer magazines were down 8.2% in Q1 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, for a decline from 36,868 pages to 33,828.

Generalized women's titles overall suffered January through March, with declines at Better Homes & Gardens, Essence, O! The Oprah Magazine and Ladies’ Home Journal among others. The beauty- and fashion-conscious Marie Claire defied the trend, with a 10% gain, and women’s luxury title W gained 16.6%.

Meredith’s Executive Vice President and President of Media Sales Dick Porter told Ad Age that advertisers are targeting their audiences. “If they’re doing broad, TV is doing that role.” Meredith titles include Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, and EatingWell. That title dropped 11.2% YoY in ad pages, despite its popularity. Effective with the September/October 2012 issue, EatingWell magazine will raise its rate base from 500,000 to 600,000, an increase of 70 percent from this time last year. In January 2012, Meredith raised the magazine's rate base from 350,000 to 500,000.

Generalized news magazines saw some extreme highs and lows. TIME dropped nearly 21% to 227 ad pages, and The Week plummeted 31.5%; while Newsweek bucked the trend with gains of 27.5%.

Spanish-language titles are strongly on the uptick. People En Espanol gained 16.2%, Ser Padres (the Spanish-language version of Parents, another Meredith title) 24.6%, and Siempre Mujer 26.2%.

Highs and Lows by Category

As Min Online details, only two categories (toiletries and cosmetics; apparel and accessories) saw increased ad pages in Q1, while automotive took a pounding with a 35.8% decrease.
Still, home and lifestyle titles overall had some strong gains.

Fine Cooking was up 76.9% to just over 15 ad pages; Veranda leapt 64.1%; and new-ish food title Dash was up 52.2%.