Mass-Market Magazines Show Improved Ad Sales

By Andrew Gauthier 

The New York Times

For magazines, it was a good year to be mass market.

Monthly magazines’ ad-page numbers for 2009 are starting to trickle in, and there are a few bright spots. Despite a dismal ad climate, a handful of magazines have more ad pages in December 2009 than a year ago. Some magazines even ended the year with an overall increase in ad pages.

In general, it is not the elite titles that are faring better. Meredith, the Des Moines-based publisher of magazines like Family Circle, had several magazines that did better this year than last year. InStyle and Glamour, which carry a wider range of advertisements than some of their higher-end competitors, posted ad-page increases in their December issues, as did Real Simple, Southern Living and Cooking Light.

These numbers are released by the publishers rather than by an audited service, which means they are not final, and they can be subject to some adjustments: publishers might include or exclude special-issue comparisons if it seems to help the numbers, for instance. Still, it offers a general gauge of the advertising.

One reason for those increases: food advertising. Brands like Heinz and Hellmanns are increasing their ads, trying to raise market share at a time when more people are cooking at home. More…