2003 Ad Pages Reflect Economic Effect of Iraqi War

American magazine publishers were still feeling the economic effects of the Iraqi war late into the year, with ad pages dropping 4.6 percent in December, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

Ad pages dipped 1 percent in 2003. Ellen Oppenheim, evp, chief marketing officer of the Magazine Publishers of America in New York, said that given the three-month lead time in magazine ad sales, full-year results were impacted by softer sales in the latter part of the year. “The first half was very strong, but the second half was affected by some of the … uncertainty surrounding the war,” she noted.

Categories posting December page and revenue increases included retail, media and advertising, and direct response. The year’s strong performers included automotive, drugs and remedies, and toiletries and cosmetics.

Ad pages in January and February monthlies are down, said Merrill Lynch analyst Karl Choi. But in a new report, he wrote that “we are … hopeful that an improving ad climate in 2004 will drive better gains in Q2.”