The magazine industry continues to roll out new publications, over 180 last year, but are consumers noticing? These publications rely heavily on circulation statistics – comprised of subscriptions, newsstand sales and free copies — to justify their rates to advertisers. And so far this year, circulation is down. But ad sales are up.
The Audit Bureau of Circulation data shows a 9.3% drop in newsstand sales and 1.2% drop in overall circulation for magazines. However, this decline hasn’t yet been reflected in ad revenue which is growing in major categories such as toiletries/cosmetics, drugs/remedies, and retail. The industry has witnessed drops in ad revenue from the food/food products and home furnishings and supplies sectors.
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Russell Adams highlights a possible industry trend. Celebrity magazine newsstand sales have dropped because more consumers are accessing information for free online. Experts also cite economic conditions as a contributing cause of lower newsstand sales.
While print advertising statistics remain strong for the industry, many publishers are shifting at least some content online. At least half of younger readers (51%) read magazines electronically. And the e‑reader and tablet formats make consuming this content appealing. Consumers appreciate the extras that the digital format can deliver to the online magazine reading experience:
- Videos 75%
- Slide shows 37%
- Audio 36%
- Flash animation 31%
Consumer magazines have seen their share of total ad spending drop from 16.4% to 15% in the past 2 years but advertisers spent $20 billion on this format to reach their targets in 2010 and may spend more this year. At the same time, publishers are wisely expanding to digital versions and this strategy will allow marketers to connect with their niche audiences in new ways.[Sources: Adams, Russell. Magazine Sales Fall. Wall Street Journal. 10 Aug. 2011. Web. 22 Aug. 2011. Magazine’s PIB Ad Pages. The Association of Magazine Media. Magazine.org. 11 Jul. 2011. Web. 23 Jul. 2011]