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Fashion magazines’ full-year figures for ad pages aren’t as full-figured as in the past — but publishers hope their titles will begin adding back some weight as 2010 progresses.
Of the fashion magazines surveyed by WWD, most suffered jaw-clenching declines in paging in 2009, ranging from the midteens to nearly 50 percent. In all, the category lost about a quarter of its pages this year, with those heavily weighted toward luxury seeing the largest losses.
In 2009, publishers faced unprecedented challenges — the Dow cratered at 6,500, same-store sales across retailers tanked, the auto industry shrank like a raisin and banks tightened their belts on issuing credit to consumers. In addition, brands looked more to online advertising, with some major companies cutting their print spending to instead market themselves through their Facebook and Twitter accounts or Web sites. As a result, spending fell 1.7 percent across all media through the third quarter, according to media research firm TNS Media Intelligence.
Publishers woke up to a new reality. “When nothing is broken, we stick to our current ways and standards,” said Robin Steinberg, MediaVest’s senior vice president, director of print investment and activation. “This forced publishers to evolve their approach, processes and mind-set faster than ever before. Are we there yet? No. Do I believe there’s room for more flexibility and creating different models and standards? Yes — but we’re moving in the right direction and the right conversations are being had.”
Of the lessons learned from 2009, Vogue senior vice president and publishing director Tom Florio argued holding true to brand identity helped Vogue maintain share. “I learned how important it is to lead the market in terms of editorial standpoint, versus heavily discount and use our editors to sell ad pages. What we saw happen this year, which we haven’t seen in a while, is the discounts were approaching 70 percent. Some of the deals that were being done were just crazy,” said Florio in a swipe at the competition’s wheeling and dealing.
Vogue lost a third of its paging this year, or about 900 pages overall, despite the buzz surrounding the brand through the documentary “The September Issue” and the Sept. 10 event Fashion’s Night Out, which Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour helped create. “Smart, powerful women still care about the way they present themselves to the world. That was our message, and we led with that instead of giving away edit credits and pages. We needed to change the mind of women to make it fun to shop again,” said Florio.