Memo Pad: Still Hanging In There... From West To East... Independent Women...

Readership is down, the economy stinks and key advertising sectors are imploding. But there's good news...

STILL HANGING IN THERE: Readership is down, the economy stinks and key advertising sectors are imploding. But there's good news, sort of: U.S. advertising spending across media such as newspapers, magazines and TV was essentially flat for the first quarter of this year, up 0.5 percent over the same period last year to approximately $30 billion, according to figures released Monday by Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Among all the categories, ad spending for national Sunday supplements experienced the biggest gains during the period. The grouping — which includes American Profile; Los Angeles Times Magazine; New York Times Magazine and various spin-offs like T, Parade, Relish and USA Weekend — was up 19.2 percent to about $289 million. (Of course, whether the Los Angeles Times Magazine's recent suggestion of moving control of its magazine from the editor to the publisher — see below — will boost advertising remains to be seen.) Meanwhile, national magazines were down 1.3 percent to $4.14 billion from $4.2 billion and national newspaper ad spending decreased 6.2 percent to $396.4 million.

And while print was relatively flat, the Internet was way up: Internet advertising impressions rose 14.7 percent in the first quarter, driven by sponsored search, Nielsen said.

Spending in the 10 largest ad categories totaled more than $10 billion during the first quarter, down slightly over a year ago, with the biggest gain coming from the "direct-response product" category, up more than 16 percent to $670 million. Other notables include financial-investment services and credit card services, both rising more than 8 percent. Predictably, the biggest drop was in automotive, down 8.3 percent to $2.7 billion. Of the other four top categories — pharmaceuticals, auto dealers, restaurant-quick service and telephone services-wireless — most saw relatively flat revenues except for restaurants, which rose 4.4 percent to $1.03 billion. Department store advertising, which came in seventh, declined 0.44 percent to $717.4 million from $720.6 million. The top five advertisers by spending were Procter & Gamble, General Motors, AT&T, Verizon and PepsiCo. — Amy Wicks

The Los Angeles Times has had a tough few years, but now would seem to be a particularly wise time to jump ship, what with the stated goal of cutting editorial staff and the reputed turf war at its weekly magazine under new Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell. The Times' Mary Kaye Schilling, who launched the entertainment-oriented Guide at the Times after 14 years at Entertainment Weekly, is leaving for New York magazine, where she'll be culture editor. New York's current culture editor, Jared Hohlt, is being named features editor.
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