The newspaper industry has been obliterated over the past year, but, for a while, the other big print business, magazines, fared slightly less badly. According to analyst Doug McIntyre at 24/7 Wall Street, that has now changed:
At Hearst, Cosmopolitan’s ad pages are off almost 11% through November. Redbook is down 10% for the same period. Good Housekeeping is only off 4%.
And that’s as good as it gets.
All of the big Conde Nast magazines are posting sharp advertising page drops. The New Yorker is down 24% through November. Vanity Fair is off 12% but its November issue lost 34% of its ad pages compared to the year before. Vogue dropped 7% but pages were down 32% for November compared to the same month in 2007. The Newhouse family, which owns Conde Nast, has been experiencing large losses at some of its newspapers, further compounding the trouble.
34% year over year. That decline leaves the newspaper collapse in the dust.
Business magazines and weekly news publications have been hit especially hard this year… Through the third week in October, BusinessWeek, owned by McGraw-Hill (MHP), has lost over 17% of its ad pages since last year. Forbes is down almost 16%. Fortune, owned by Time Warner (TWX) is up just over 2%. Online audience measurement firm Quantcast shows BusinessWeek.com with seven million unique visitors and Forbes with four million. That means they at least have an opportunity to do well bringing in large sums of internet ad dollars even as a recession diminishes some of the growth in that medium.
(Online ad dollars won’t support those huge staffs, though).
In the weekly news category the three large publications, Time, Newsweek (part of The Washington Post (WPO), and US News, have lost an average of 27% of their ad pages. US News, which is privately held, is going through a particularly brutal period with ad pages off 32% year-to-date. Quantcast estimates that USN has only 2.3 million visitors online, probably not enough to make up for the fall-off in the print product.
The bottom line:
Magazine executives are likely to make the same case that newspaper management did last year. In a better environment, print revenue will come back. That view now appears naive. Magazines do have the advantage of having watched newspapers wait too long to move online. If they take advantage of the benefit of that history they may find themselves in relatively good shape.
See Also: New York Times Running On Fumes