Yearend Monthlies’ +4.22% Year-End Ad Pages Improve In A Still-Fragile Economy

11/22/2010

Compared with the horror shows of 2008 and 2009, it was a pleasure to be a magazine publisher in 2010. The cumulative gain is indicative that there were no major business shocks after the banking failures that contributed to the rash of magazine failures. (Thus far, no major title has shut down this year.) At the same time, there is not yet the new-products bounty that accompanied the 1990s’ boom that followed 1991’s recession-affected -9.90%. With unemployment and foreclosures still too high, the worry continues as we enter 2011 with March–as always–being the first major indicator. Below are the monthlies’ three-year quarterly timeline followed by year-end data since 1999:

2007  2008  2009  2010 
4th qtr.  1st qtr.  2nd qtr.  3rd qtr.  4th qtr.  1st qtr.  2nd qtr.  3rd qtr.  4th qtr.  1st qtr.  2nd qtr.  3rd qtr.  4th qtr. 
+3.84%  -4.61%  -6.14%  -11.52%  -13.89%  -21.54%  -23.81%  -21.17%  -17.09%  -5.70%  +4.86%   +8.65%  +7.77% 
1999  2000  2001  2002  2003  2004  2005  2006  2007  2008  2009  2010 
+3.20%  +4.36%  -7.54%  -0.67%  +0.50%  +3.31%  +1.14%  +0.22%  +2.23%  -9.40%  -20.05%  +4.22% 

Cumulatively, the 99 magazines-up/50-down ratio at year-end is a welcome reversal from 2009-versus-2008’s 10-up/141 down. In that vein, kudos to Fitness publisher (since July 2007) Lee Slattery and her staff for following 2009’s +9.14% with a +16.83% 2010. Fitness was down-and-out pre-Slattery and pre-editor-in-chief (since September 2008) Betty Wong. Now, it seems destined for the “hot lists,” and per the New York Post (November 17), Fitness ’ ad success may have been a factor in rival Shape (+3.91% in 2010) editor-in-chief Valerie Latona being replaced by Star beauty and fashion director Tara Kraft.

Kudos also to People StyleWatch, which has been hot throughout: from 2009’s +23.50% under now- Lucky publisher Michelle Myers to 2010’s +49.47% under Karin Tracy. Latter differential is the best among monthlies with unchanged frequencies. Best December differentials are National Geographic Kids (+121.46%), Chicago (+68.39%), Elle Decor (+66.45%), Woman’s Day (+64.87%), and Scientific American (+62.18%). See the complete chart of 149 magazine titles.