Posted November 12, 2009 7:55 am by with 1 comment

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Magazine rackNot to ‘dog pile’ on an industry and a company, in particular, that is obviously struggling, it is important to keep track of where traditional media buys (newspapers, magazines, TV etc) are heading. It’s important to see where the balance may occur between online and traditional as well as a barometer on the economic environment we all are living with but seemingly saying less about these days.

Conde Nast has already cut four titles this year which sent a shiver down the spine of the magazine industry as a whole. Now, as the company reports on its 2009 ad page sales it becomes obvious why that kind of move may have been the only choice. The New York Times reports

The company’s ad pages at monthly magazines have declined by almost a third since last year, with the company losing 8,359 ad pages this year, according to estimates it released Wednesday. Condé Nast began cost-cutting this fall, closing Gourmet, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride and Cookie.

The worst-hit magazines for the year were Architectural Digest, where ad pages fell 49.9 percent; W, where ad pages fell 46 percent; and Condé Nast Traveler, where pages fell 41.1 percent. Details and Wired both fell about 39 percent.

Ouch, those kinds of numbers usually have a sound effect attached to them (cue the Wile E. Coyote plummeting to his demise audio). The sound that everyone is waiting for next is the thud of when this trend finally hits bottom.

What needs to be watched is that this kind of result is seen as a referendum on the magazine industry as a whole. It’s actually not. The reason that Conde Nast is taking such a beating is that their titles are almost all pointed at the luxury market and the advertising money in that segment has dried up.

On the other side of this is the Meredith, publisher of titles like Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, Fitness and more is actually doing better than last year. Why? They are reaching more mass market audiences and there is an emphasis from food advertisers and other marketers who provide products and services that focus on people doing more at home so they can save money. Makes sense.

So while the newspaper industry as a whole is declining that same kind of blanket statement may not be fair in the magazines because magazines do something that the Internet does as well; provides targeted content to particular segments. As a result, marketers to these segments will buy because there is value.

Wow. How about that? You provide value and people buy things. Who woulda thunk?

  • Sounds like a pretty ripe opportunity for consolidation within the magazine industry. Someone could buy up a lot of these titles and build a more diversified portfolio that would be more resilient to economic shifts. And many of the properties would be a bargain right now.

    And yes, the magazine industry is dying, but it’ll be a long slow death and there’s a lot of money to be made along the way by people who get it and are comfortable working in such a competitive market.