After a brutal ad downturn, magazines finally turned a corner in 2010. But total ad pages are far off their pre–ad recession peak and the spending outlook is uncertain, tempering optimism for the medium.
Ad pages grew nearly 5 percent to 141,938 across the 168 titles tracked by the Mediaweek Monitor. But to give a sense of how deep the recession cut, that’s 30 percent below the pages generated in 2007, when the Monitor tracked 196 titles (many of which folded in the ad recession).
That’s not to say there aren’t signs of rebirth. The fastest-growing titles of 2010 were newbies Food Network Magazine, which grew 79 percent; and People StyleWatch, up 49 percent.
But others with a distinct point of view and/or strong integrated sales approaches also did well, like the 153-year-old Atlantic, which was up 24 percent. Other big gainers were Elle Décor, up 35 percent; and Fast Company, up 27 percent.
Categories that rely on ad categories that are relatively recession-resistant (food, beauty) tended to fare the best. The fastest-growing were bridal, up 17 percent; food, up 15 percent; and parenting, up 12 percent.
While 2010 was a year of recovery for most, many titles still struggled, especially men’s, enthusiast, travel and shelter, reflecting weakness in ad spending for auto, travel and home products.
The biggest decliners by percentage change were SI Kids, down 38 percent; Country Living, down 26 percent; Coastal Living, down 26 percent; and Newsweek, down 18 percent.
—AdweekMedia senior online editor Will Levith edits the Mediaweek Monitor
Follow AdweekMedia senior editor Lucia Moses @lmoses on Twitter