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PIB: Magazine Ad Pages Rise A Bit, As Food Category Starts To Stumble

By and large, consumer magazine ad pages have been trending pretty well the past year, ekeing out slim gains amid advertisers’ continued migration from print to digital. But as the latest Publishers Information Bureau figures for Q2 indicate, the gains continue to be slow, while food-related titles, a category that had been growing even during the recession, appears to be trending downward.

Overall, Q2 consumer mags’ ad pages were essentially flat, with a rise of only 0.3 percent.

As a both a magazine title category and a marketing segment, “food” is one of the most heavily-focused areas for readers and advertisers. A rundown of some of the most popular food titles shows a retreat for all but one in Q2 compared to Q210’s performance (in parentheses):

Condé Nast’s Bon Appetit: -3.3 percent (+2.7 percent)
Time (NYSE: TWX) Inc.’s Cooking Light: -12.1 (+32.3)
Reader’s Digest Association’s Every Day With Rachel Ray: -18.1 (+3.2)
Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food: -20.0 (-2.0)
American Express Publishing’s Food & Wine : -3.0 (-13)
Hearst Magazine’s Food Network Magazine: -1.7 (+263.7)

There are a few anomalies here, such as Food Network Magazine only debuted in June. This could have to do with the fact that marketers were already concentrating heavily on food and therefore, saw it was time to pull back a bit.

Looking at the first half of the year, PIB ad dollars and pages grew in seven of 12 major advertising categories, including Apparel, Automotive, Drugs, Financial, Insurance & Real Estate; Retail; Technology; and Toiletries & Cosmetics. While the ad outlook has been turning a bit more uncertain, all the major forecasts expect modest spending growth over the next year.

For the food category — which has also seen a number of new additions on the web from publishers like Meredith (NYSE: MDP) — the party for most titles probably isn’t over. As Media Industry News recently noted, Food Network just made its top 5 debut with the biggest issue (115.18 ad pages) in its two-year history. Release

One Response to “PIB: Magazine Ad Pages Rise A Bit, As Food Category Starts To Stumble”

  1. The way the economy has been for magazine publishers the past few years, and with the media hanging on every single statistical data point, it’s important not to make too much out of any one report — be it positive, negative or flat. Of course, a dramatic upturn in ad pages would be a nice development for everyone associated with the magazine industry, but let’s keep an eye on the slightly bigger picture and zoom out from the data a bit. This appears to have been largely a flat quarter for the industry as a whole, but let’s not forget how grim things were a few years ago. The recovery is a sustained campaign of progress, not a short-lived speed bump, and the broader view is far more important than the breaking news of the moment. Another news story this week revealed that launches far outnumbered closures in the first half of 2011, so the current publishing environment is complex, at the very least.