Summary:

Although advertising spending came back in 2010, the best consumer magazines were able to do was to arrest the erosion of ad pages, accordin…

Stack Of Magazines
photo: Corbis / Alfred Schauhuber

Although advertising spending came back in 2010, the best consumer magazines were able to do was to arrest the erosion of ad pages, according to the latest figures from the MPA’s Publishers Information Bureau. Still, the numbers do show that the industry was gaining momentum by the end of the year, which should carry over into 2011.

Magazines flirted with positive ad pages numbers in 2010, as the PIB recorded over 169,000 ad pages in 2010, a loss of just 0.1 percent compared to the same period in 2009. On the plus side, PIB revenue closed the year totaling roughly $20 billion in rate card ad revenues, generating a 3.1 percent increase against the same January-to-December period in 2009. That would be the first positive gain on the industry’s collective revenue side since 2007. However, it should be noted that rate cards are notoriously inaccurate measurements, since most publishers offer discounts from what’s on the rate card. With that in mind, though, it does reflect the better mood throughout the magazine business.

As a signal of better times, Q4 magazine rate cards were up a decent 4.2 percent, while ad pages grew 3.5 percent during the final three months of the year.

Like most ad categories, magazines owed much of their aggregate improvement to the return of auto marketers, who increased spending across most major media for the year. Ad pages devoted to autos were up 16.9 percent. Other increases came from technology, retail and home furnishings, though the additional spending were fairly meager. Overall, 128 magazines posted increases in ad pages last year, compared to 22 magazines in 2009. Release

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