Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

Magazine Circulation Down, Number of Ad Pages Up

Fewer people are reading more ads.  That’s the conclusion one can apparently draw from dueling reports this week.  A New York Post piece today that more and more magazine readers appear to be headed for the web for content. 

While some titles are enjoying banner sales and strong comebacks, many of the old standbys are suffering double-digit declines in the second half of this year compared with a year earlier, such as the nation’s biggest seller, Readers’ Digest, which tumbled 12.2 percent to 10.1 million circulation.

Other legends also withered, including Woman’s Day, off 20 percent to 4 million; Redbook, down 28.6 percent to 2.4 million; and even Anna Wintour’s Vogue, off 6 percent to 1.3 million.

Steve Rubel pointed earlier this week to data that showed the number of pages of magazine advertising increased in 2006. 

According to the Magazine Publishers of America, magazine advertising pages climbed to nearly 250,000 pages last year. While they’re down from their 2000 high of 286,000 pages, the trend line has been going up. (Advertising pages tally up the total number of pages in a magazine that have advertising on them. They are a general indicator of the health of the magazine publishing industry.)

While both items mention the migration to the web, neither addresses whether the combined readership of the affected publications, including both online and print, are up or down.  Presumably when you add in online readership, the numbers would be much better.  Of course, from a business perspective one would want to know whether total revenue was enhanced enough by the web audience to make up for the lost print circulation.

Steve does conclude with a good observation, however: “The takeaway here for me is that media is often additive. One format does not always replace another.”  He’s right, print media is here to stay.  The publishers and titles that evolve with the times will thrive; those who continue to do business the old way will suffer.

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