Fashion Titles Report Spring Ad Growth

After tough 2011, most monthlies grew in March

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March is looking like a promising month for fashion titles and to some extent for the magazine industry in general, with nearly all major fashion books reporting ad page increases for their bellwether spring issues. 

Vogue once again carried the most ad pages in its March issue, with 443, an increase of 16 pages (or about 4 percent) over the strong year prior, which saw a year-over-year increase of 50 pages. The magazine beat its five-year average by 4.5 percent, said publisher Susan Plagemann.

Plagemann credited the success with growth in all of the magazine’s core ad categories—fashion, jewelry, retail, and both prestige and mass beauty—and the Vogue name, of course. “We have the privilege to represent a very strong brand and platform, and I think that that strength is something that people want to be a part of,” Plagemann said.

The gains come as some titles are getting a revamp, including Glamour and Bazaar. In another sign of life for the category, Time is bringing back its Time Style & Design spin-off, starting with a March issue.

W's March issue—featuring dual Kate Moss covers shot by Steven Klein—closed with 204 ad pages, an increase of 41 pages (or 25 percent) from the previous year. March also saw the highest rate of quarterly growth in W’s history, tied with Q3 2007. “This is going to be a very strong year for us, not just a strong issue,” said publisher Nina Lawrence. “We’ll also be up in April and May and so on.”

W’s fashion advertising was up 28 percent, while beauty gained 41 percent, and the jewelry and watch categories nearly tripled. Twenty brands picked up four or more pages in the March issue, including Saks Fifth Avenue, whose 20-page spread in the magazine and digital buy on the website will kick off a yearlong official partnership marking W’s 40th anniversary. The growth wasn't limited to luxury; P&G also took 13 pages in the magazine.

Also at Condé Nast, mass-reach Glamour notched a 9 percent increase in March ad pages, to 181 pages. Including editorial pages, Glamour’s March issue will be its second-largest book in 20 years, spokeswoman Samantha Rosenthal said.

Time Inc.’s InStyle will carry 347 ad pages, up 13 percent from the previous year, which marks the magazine’s third consecutive year of March growth (ad pages were up 20 percent in March 2011 and 34 percent in March 2010). Publisher Connie Anne Phillips said luxury and beauty drove the 2012 March increases, with beauty up 64 percent and luxury up 33 percent. New advertisers for the issue included David Yurman, Missoni and Nordstrom.

At Hearst, Elle closed with 319 ad pages for March, up 2 percent from the previous year, with luxury and prestige beauty driving the most growth, WWD reported. Harper’s Bazaar, which will launch its redesign in March, reported 271 ad pages, an increase of 15 percent.

Marie Claire will run its largest-ever March issue this spring, tying with Glamour at 181 ad pages—an increase of 31 percent over the year before. The issue saw a 25 percent rise in fashion ads and 30 percent in beauty, with new advertisers including Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, AG Jeans, MAC, Smashbox and Botox, according to WWD.

The only magazine to report a decrease in March ad pages was Condé’s Lucky, which fell 21 percent to 106 pages, according to WWD. While beauty advertising increased, retail pages were down.

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.