Ad revenue is up, while ad pages are down, according to the October report from the Publisher’s Information Bureau.
So it’s good news for magazine publishers, or bad news, depending on how you tell the story and which side of the seesaw you are on. Is it bad that ad pages are down? Sure. But they are down less than they were last year. And overall ad revenue is up, which is definitely a good thing. So, why are we still looking so confused?
The answer becomes clearer after reading Bill Cromwell’s article “Easing decline for magazine ad pages” in Media Life Magazine.
Cromwell does a credible job of pulling the story out of the figures from the PIB, but it’s a challenge to draw any kind of conclusion from an overall “it’s not as bad as it was” perspective.
For one thing, this is the first time that the figures are feeling the hit from Newsweek’s decision to stop printing.
Says Cromwell, “… certainly some of the declines can be ascribed to changes in the industry. Newsweek, for example, is no longer publishing a print issue. It had 165 ad pages during third quarter last year, and the loss of those pages represents roughly 25 percent of the total ad page decline during the quarter.”
And of course, there are the digital channels that are taking up some of the previously print-based ad spending, with tablet advertising up 17.5%. It’s climbing, but digital still accounts for a sliver-sized piece of the overall pie.
Branded content or native advertising, while not mentioned specifically in Cromwell’s piece, continues to evolve into a fairly significant channel expense in the overall marketing budget, further muddying the revenue and page count waters.
Let’s call it out – the data, taken on its own, is confusing and tells a garbled story. Some titles are doing great (take Elle for example) while others are slacking.
Our take? It’s actually an awesome time to be in publishing – provided you want to do it well. There is room in the market for high quality, intelligent publishing that finds its niche and speaks to it beautifully. There’s less room left for the also-rans and the imitators.
This gives us a rare opportunity to step into the void and create. Are we bold enough to do so?