“The latest ad pages reports from the consumer and B2B magazine industries were a cold slap in the face to those still hoping for a recovery. As usual, though, there is more to the numbers than simply a wholesale decline in print advertising,” wrote D.B. Hebbard in Talking New Media last week.
Hebbard is talking about the Q1 figures from the Publishers Information Bureau that show ad pages down 4%, with revenue dropping by 1.6%. Digging a little deeper into the data, though, we find some interesting things going on…and some really good news in some categories and titles.
According to the MPA’s website (they put out the PIB figures), the declines were in no way across the board.
“The page declines were disproportionately driven by two advertising categories: Tech and Retail, which accounted for almost two-thirds (63%) of the overall page loss,” writes MPA’s Mary G. Berner.
“One company, which had a major product launch last year, greatly inflating its 2013 Q1 numbers, comprised 74% of the tech decline and one quarter of the total loss for the quarter,” Berner continues.
“The continued challenges of retailing is reflected in the softness in retail advertising in print magazines, with two major retailers accounting for over 17% of the Q1 Retail category declines,” Berner continues.
Other categories looked positively vibrant by comparison, like Home Furnishings for example (up 16.4% in pages and 19.8% in revenue). And even with a slight decline in overall ad pages, the Apparel and Accessories niche saw a lift of 5.8% in revenue.
Hebbard concludes that there really is no conclusion to draw here, saying “It would nice to place a blanket over the whole industry and come to some sort of conclusion as to what the future will hold for the rest of 2014, but I think that would be generalizing.”
“Many of the titles showing poor results have issues of management and sales leadership, while other titles (such as The Atlantic) may be seeing their brands increase in awareness due to things beyond simply print advertising,” he continues.
Given other signs of life in the industry (like the MPA Factbook data that shows magazine ad revenue remaining robust and cessations slowing down), we believe the trends will continue up.