Ad revenues plunge across the Pond

American magazines have been hit by a heavy drop-off in advertising, according to the latest statistics from the Publishers' Information Bureau.

Hardest hit by the decline in advertising have been America's business magazines. Ad pages at Fast Company, a leading American business publication, declined  by 25 per cent over the first six months of 2006. Ads were down almost 10 per cent at Money magazine, six per cent at Business Week and almost the same at Inc.

Men’s magazines are generally down too. Especially FHM (down almost 17 per cent) Maxim (16 per cent) Men's Health (also 16 per cent) and Details (almost six per cent).

The only good news is in the celebrity magazine field. Ad pages in In Touch magazine are up over 33 per cent, while Life & Style Weekly claimed an increase of almost 22 per cent.

By comparison adverts in People and Us, the two leading celebrity mags, remained virtually flat. Only Martha Stewart Living, which suffered a big drop in sales and ads while its proprietor spent time in jail last year, is bouncing back – with a jump in ads so far this year of more than 74 per cent.

Jane posted a 41 per cent drop in ad pages. Vanity Fair was down 15 per cent, Field and Steam down almost 11 per cent and even New Yorker was off almost 18 per cent.

Advertisers even seem to be losing confidence in Playboy. Its ad pages are down almost 25 per cent.

Is there any reason to believe there could be a turnaround soon? In one big and costly promotion the Magazine Publishers' Association is turning to Superman, or at least a near relative.

The organization has created a new superhero called Captain Read, a cartoon-like character, wearing crimson tights and a cape, who will spearhead a campaign that includes being featured on this week's covers of Adweek, Mediaweek and other trade publications.

His slogan: "Magazines Save the Day."

The campaign, which will include visits to various trade shows, handing out leaflets and M & M candies to media executives, is budgeted to cost around $50,000.

Will it do any good?. Probably not, according to Samir Husni, professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi.

Husni told the New York Times: "Unless the magazine industry reinvents itself , sooner or later the ad- driven model that has existed for years is not going to work. We cannot depend on anyone but the readers to pay for the product."

Not even a Superhero.

Picture: the New York headquarters of the Hearst Corporation, the US newspapers, magazines and broadcasting giant.

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