The IPad Is Finally Showing Signs Of Saving The Dying Magazine Business

Tim Cook iPadAPApple CEO Tim Cook showing off the iPad, saviour of the magazine industry.

The magazine industry entered 2013 on a sour note, reeling from the final print editions of newsstand mainstays like Spin and Newsweek, and bracing for layoffs in newsrooms across the country.

After a slight uptick in 2010 and 2011, magazine ad revenues fell once again in 2012, continuing a general decline that began in 2007.

But as 2013 comes to a close, the glossies have something to cheer about — and the good news comes in the form of the industry’s highly coveted tablet ad sales.

According to a new report from MPA-The Association of Magazine Media, U.S. magazines sold 16% more iPad ad units this year than they did a year ago. Print ad pages were essentially flat from the year before.

Using data from Kantar Media, the industry trade group found that the 69 magazines it analysed sold a total of 6% more ad space across both their tablet and print editions in 2013 than they did in 2012. So tablet ad sales are driving magazine growth, not print, basically.

MPA-The Association of Magazine Media president and CEO Mary G. Berner cheered the news with a defiant statement castigating the media’s “lemming-like” coverage of the magazine industry’s demise.

“I put lumps of coal in the stockings of all the nay-sayers who lost their faith in magazine media,” Berner said. “These numbers prove, once again, that this business is about powerful, relevant and enduring brands. Despite erroneous, lemming-like coverage of declines, magazine media, has not, in fact, ever had an audience problem, and it is gratifying to see that advertisers are increasingly realising that.”

In truth, the industry still has a ways to go. The Pew Research Center reported earlier this year that digital platforms made up just 6.6% of total magazine revenues in 2012. Pew expects this portion to rise to 14.5% in 2016, but it’s unclear whether that will be enough to make up the print revenues the industry has lost over the years.

On the bright side for magazine publishers, the market for tablets is predicted to continuing growing in 2014, with IT research firm Gartner estimating that worldwide tablet shipments will jump 42.7% in the coming year.

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