Finally, some good news for magazine publishers. For the first time in nine quarters, pages and rate-card reported ad revenue increased in the second quarter of 2010 versus the year-ago period, per Publishers Information Bureau.
Second-quarter revenue rose 5.7 percent to $5.2 billion while ad pages crept up 0.8 percent, to 43,427—an improvement over the first quarter, when revenue declined 3.9 percent and pages, 9.4 percent.
“Magazines are benefiting from what appears to be an advertising economic lift during the second half,” said Nina Link, president and CEO, Magazine Publishers of America, which administers PIB.
Revenue and pages grew in six of magazines’ 12 major ad categories: auto, financial, toiletries/cosmetics, home furnishings, technology and food. This is the first time since 2007 that auto advertising posted double-digit increases in pages (28 percent) and revenue (up 41 percent), MPA noted.
MPA said 130 magazines posted page gains, compared with 15 in the year-ago quarter. Among them were ESPN The Magazine (up 42.9 percent), Real Simple (up 35.5 percent), The Atlantic (up 35 percent) and Fast Company (up 31.4 percent).
Many titles are still experiencing declines, though. Among them are Coastal Living (down 15.7 percent), Country Living (down 21.4 percent), Islands (down 17.1 percent) and Food & Wine (down 13 percent).
The gains also weren’t enough to bring ad pages into positive territory for the first half. For the first six months of the year, revenue rose 1.2 percent but ad pages dipped 4 percent.
The positive momentum seems to be building this summer, though, validating publishers’ optimism about the industry’s prospects. Magazines’ most recent issue (for most monthlies, that’s July) showed an average 10.8 percent year-over-year gain, per the Mediaweek Monitor.
The good news may be short-lived, though. Talk of a double-dip recession and slowing consumer spending raise questions about how deep advertisers will dip into their wallets in the fourth-quarter, a significant ad-revenue period for many magazines.