Magazine Ad Pages Down Again in Q3, but Decline Is Slowing

Tablet ads still a bright spot

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Encouraging news for consumer magazines: While their print advertising volume continues to shrink, the decline has slowed, according to new Publishers Information Bureau data released today by MPA—The Association for Magazine Media.

Print ad pages declined 1.8 percent in the third quarter of 2013 versus the year-ago period, following declines of 4.5 percent and 4.8 percent in the second and first quarters, respectively. Year to date, ad pages declined 3.8 percent to 104,332.

At the same time, advertising in digital editions continues to be a bright spot; tablet ad units grew 17.5 percent in Q3 and 22 percent year to date to 21,693. Tablet ads still make up a small slice of the overall ad pie, of course—those ad figures only represent 58 of the 204 magazines titles measured by PIB. Still, MPA president and CEO Mary Berner called this “an encouraging trend." 

"Marketers are shifting dollars in some instances from print to tablet editions, but continue to invest in magazine media," she said in a statement.

Most of the Q3 growth came from the drugs and remedies category (up about 19 percent in pages) as well as the food and food products and toiletries and cosmetics categories (both up about 6 percent). As a result, health and fitness magazines performed especially well in the quarter—nearly all those titles saw a double-digit ad page increase—as did food magazines and fashion books. Celebrity weeklies also had a strong third quarter, with titles like InTouch, Life & Style, OK! Weekly and Star increasing ad pages by upwards of 40 percent.

The weaker magazine categories during the quarter included women’s service titles (Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Day, Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle and Redbook all had paging declines) and automotive magazines.

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.