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Magazines Can’t Turn Page on Slump
The media marketplace may be expecting an advertising rebound this year, but at least one group isn’t benefiting so far: magazines.
The number of ad pages in U.S. consumer magazines fell 8.2% during the first quarter of 2012 from the year earlier period, according to research by the Publishers Information Bureau. The quarter is the third in a row where the number of ad pages declined from the year-earlier period.
“They are having a slow start to 2012,” said Robin Steinberg, a media buyer at MediaVest, a firm owned by Publicis Groupe PUB.FR -2.08%SA. “Economic pressure and uncertainty continue to challenge print media coupled with long lead times,” she added.
Automotive and food companies were among the businesses that significantly pulled back on their U.S. ad-page purchases, according PIB data.
Titles experiencing page declines of over 20% included Golf Digest, In Touch Weekly, Martha Stewart Living, Men’s Fitness, and O, The Oprah Magazine, PIB said.
The print industry has been hampered by the lackluster economy but it has also been particularly hurt by advertising dollars shifting to digital media, media buyers say.
The magazine business has been trying to claw its way back from the brutal ad slump during the 2008/2009 economic downturn, when dozens of titles including Gourmet, Southern Accets and Best Life folded. But after a strong start last year, magazine ad pages turned down, falling 5.6% in the third quarter and 8% in the fourth quarter.
For 2011, ad pages fell 3.1% overall, according to PIB. In terms of ad spending, Kantar Media estimates magazines were flat last year, while media overall registered about 1% growth in ad spending.
This year media companies have been hopeful that an improving economy, the summer Olympic Games and the U.S. presidential elections would bolster overall ad spending.
While much of those gains would accrue to television, companies often launch big ad campaigns tied to the Olympics that encompass print media as well. Zenith Optimedia, also owned by Publicis, expects U.S. ad spending this year to increase 3.6% to $159.6 billion this year. The firm is predicting spending increases for television, billboards, radio and Internet advertising.
Demand for ad time on cable and network TV appears to have improved in the first quarter of 2012 compared with 2011, according Kantar Media, which has not released its first quarter ad spending assessment.
Broadcasters such as CBS Corp. CBSA +1.56%have been particularly optimistic about the ad market this year. CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves said last month that the TV ad marketplace was strong and that his company was seeing strong demand from automobile and pharmaceutical companies.