CHART: How Mobile Phones Are Killing The Magazine Business

Kantar MediaKantar Media’s adspend numbers (click to enlarge).

Photo: Kantar Media

Total U.S. ad spending increased just 0.9 per cent in Q2 2012, to $34.4 billion, according to Kantar Media, but that marginal increase masked the disproportionate damage suffered by the magazine sector.Magazine ad sales declined -2.7% per cent in the quarter, with across-the-board declines at consumer, business and Sunday magazines. The only magazine sectors to post growth were niche publications like local and Spanish language magazines, according to Kantar.

The report doesn’t say why the declines occurred. The ad economy has been growing in fits and starts for about three years now, and magazines ought to be benefiting from that. But the Kantar numbers offer a clue that mobile phones may be killing the magazine business.

Web display advertising also declined in the quarter, by -5.4%. Kantar only measures display, and not search or other forms of digital adspend. The one thing we know about digital adspend is that money right now is pouring into mobile ad delivery, and lowering prices as it does so. The effect of that is to reduce the total amount of dollars spent on internet display ads — which is probably why you’re seeing web sales declines in Kantar’s numbers.

Now put that together with the way people use their phones and tablets. The iPad and the Samsung Galaxy S III are used by consumers in an almost identical way to how they use magazines: Portable delivery of entertainment and news.

The Kantar numbers also show a continued decline in the newspaper business, where ad revenue sank another -3.1%. The web, famously, killed the newspaper business.

It looks like mobile will do the same for magazines.


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