PIB Numbers Tell Tale of Woe for Magazine Publishing

Official numbers from Publishers Information Bureau (PIB) out Jan. 13 confirmed the pain that publishers have been feeling for the past 12 months. Rate-card reported ad revenue declined more precipitously as the year went on, dropping 13.8 percent in the fourth quarter and 7.8 percent for the year. Ad pages fell 17.1 percent in the quarter and 11.7 percent for the full year.

Steep declines were felt across all 12 of the biggest magazine ad categories, which represent more than 85 percent of all ad spending in magazines as measured by PIB, a service of Magazine Publishers of America.

Paging falloffs were especially severe in automotive (down 25.8 percent for the fourth quarter and 24.3 percent for the year), reflecting the auto industry’s longstanding woes and causing sharp pain to men’s magazines; and financial, insurance & real estate (down 36.5 percent for the quarter and 17.3 percent for the year), which fell off a cliff in the fourth quarter amid the markets’ meltdown, to the detriment of business titles.

Also down sharply was the home furnishings and supplies category, reflecting the soft housing market; pages there fell 22.8 percent in the fourth quarter and 17.9 percent for the year.

MPA still managed to find a few bright spots in the numbers, pointing out that within the broad ad categories, there were increases in ad spending in a scattering of subsegments like budget-focused discount stores and food basics.