The magazine industry has been hit hard by the recession, with advertising by volume dropping 17% in January, according to figures from the Media Industry Newsletter.
Worst hit was Condé Nast, with four magazine titles featuring in the list of top 10 declines for January. Advertising in Wired was down 47% over the same time last year, Architectural Digest 46% and Vogue and Lucky both down 44%.
Other magazines making the top ten include Boating (Hachette Filipacchi Media) Power & Motoryacht (Source Interlink Media), Everyday Food (Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia), Salt Water Sportsman (Bonnier Corporation), Texas Monthly (Emmis Communications), and Boys’ Life (Boy Scouts of America.)
As the New York Times points out, the difference can be seen by all readers: for example Allure magazine went from 70 pages of ads in January 2008 to 41 in January 2009.
The financial situation of Condé Nast going into the downturn is difficult to gauge; the company is an operating unit of Advance Publications Inc, a large newspaper owner, and one of America’s bigger privately held companies, so profit figures aren’t immediately available.
Notably the 17% industry downturn is by volume, not revenue, so the actual hit could be higher again. In a tight market advertising rates will be heading downward as magazines look to fill their inventory, so the financial loss could be 30-40% industry wide.
The only question now is how long for many of these magazines. Even a private company like Advance isn’t going to keep publishing titles that are bleeding money, and unlike the newspaper part of the business, the historical attachment to magazines is much less, making the decision to cease publication easier.