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As media agencies and analysts predicted, the first quarter of 2009 proved to be a bloody one for magazines.

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LIGHTWEIGHT MARCH ISSUES: As media agencies and analysts predicted, the first quarter of 2009 proved to be a bloody one for magazines. According to figures published today by Media Industry Newsletter, the large fashion and beauty titles saw an overall 22 percent decline in advertising pages in the first three months of the year, a reflection of the recession impacting print. From the high-fashion to the more mass titles, the dismal numbers demonstrate to what extent advertisers are staying on the sidelines until things improve.

Allure, for example, saw a 35 percent drop in ad pages to 214 pages in the first quarter, while Vogue declined 28 percent, or 218 pages, to a total of 563 for the period. Glamour declined 22 percent to 291, and W posted a 40 percent drop, or 218 ad pages, for the quarter, carrying 322 pages. Glamour’s 291 ad pages this quarter reflect a 22 percent slide. And as same-store sales at retailers continue to slide, shopping magazine Lucky saw a 35 percent contraction in ad pages, raking in 203 pages for the first quarter. The Condé Nast-owned titles do not discount their page rates to advertisers, a stance that in the short term could deter some advertisers (Condé Nast also owns WWD).

At Hearst Magazines, Town & Country has seen a 30 percent decline in the quarter: The magazine carried 247 pages for the first three issues of the year. Harper’s Bazaar carried 396 pages, a 21 percent decrease compared to 2008, while Cosmopolitan’s 305 pages are 48 pages, or 14 percent, below last year’s total. O, The Oprah Magazine reported a 20 percent slide in pages, to 305. Marie Claire is off 16 percent, totaling 214 ad pages. Meanwhile, Elle dropped 26 percent, gathering 435 pages through March. In Style, whose publisher, Lynette Harrison Brubaker, is leaving the Time Inc. title, reported a 29 percent drop in paging, to 436.

The health magazines continue to manage the ad slide better than their fashion counterparts, but have still suffered during the downturn. Shape is reporting an 8 percent decline in paging, to 312, while Self lost 50 pages, or 18 percent, during the quarter, reporting 234 ad pages through March. Women’s Health declined by 28 pages, or 19 percent, to 115. Fitness was the only magazine that reported a page increase, but that’s because the Meredith Corp. title added an issue this year. That bumped its total to 201 pages, or 30 percent more than in the first quarter 2008. Essence also fared better than its peers, recording a 6 percent decline in paging compared to last year, to a total of 266.

— Stephanie D. Smith

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