Summary:

Magazine ad pages grew 2.5 percent in the first three months of 2011 compared to the same period last year, a time when the ad recovery was…

Stack Of Magazines
photo: Corbis / Alfred Schauhuber

Magazine ad pages grew 2.5 percent in the first three months of 2011 compared to the same period last year, a time when the ad recovery was gaining momentum, the latest Publishers Information Bureau figures show.

Such a slim percentage is generally not worth celebrating. But given that the severe declines between 2008 and 2009 are still etched in the memories of most publishers — plus the fact that collective newspaper ad sales are still in negative territory — it’s hard to fault the magazine industry for patting itself on the back for having four positive quarters in a row as of Q1.

Fashion and automotives remained the primary drivers of magazine ad growth, along with finance and technology.

In terms of individual titles, Bloomberg BusinessWeek scored a major victory with 48 percent more ad pages than the same period last year, a time when the dust was settling on its transfer from McGraw-Hill (NYSE: MHP). In contrast, Forbes’ saw its ad pages fall by 9.9 percent.

Speaking of transitions, Newsweek, which still going through the process of merging with The Daily Beast, was down 30 percent, suggesting that advertisers have continued to flee.

But comebacks are always possible, as Playboy’s ad pages rose 26 percent. A full tally of the magazine titles’ Q1 performance is available here. Release

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