PUBLICATION PRINTING — Getting the Numbers To “Ad” Up


Technology Editor

Looking back, 2003 has shaped up much the same as 2002 for magazine publishers and publication printers. Both are still holding out hope for a rebound in advertising spending but, at the same time, are wary of to what extent the competitive standing of magazines has permanently changed.

Consider one measure of industry activity: the Publishers Information Bureau (PIB) index of consumer magazine ad pages. Through October, advertising revenue was up 8.7 percent, but ad pages were down 0.2 percent compared to the same period in 2002. The comprehensive numbers only tell part of the story, since the category breakdown painted an even bleaker picture.

Top 10 Publication Printers
  Company Segment
1 Quebecor World
$1,622 $6,242
2 RR Donnelley
$1,046 $4,754
3 Quad/Graphics
Sussex, WI
$648 $1,800
4 Cadmus Communications
Richmond, VA
$321 $446
5 Brown Printing
Waseca, MN
$304 $380
6 Perry Judd’s
Waterloo, WI
$189 $290
7 Banta Corp.
Menasha, WI
$177 $1,366
8 Vertis Inc.
$167 $1,675
9 Publishers Printing/
Publishers Press
Shepherdsville, KY
$160 $160

10 The Sheridan Group
Hunt Valley, MD
$146 $208

Sales figures are based on above printers’ self-reported total and market segment breakdowns.

Nine of the 12 major advertising categories tracked by PIB registered dollar gains for the year-to-date comparison, but only two—Drugs & Remedies (up 8.8 percent) and Home Furnishings & Supplies (6.9 percent)—showed any significant growth in ad pages. The categories hit the hardest in terms of lost pages were Direct Response Companies (-13.9 percent), Media & Advertising (-9.5 percent), Food & Food Products (-9.6 percent), Financial, Insurance & Real Estate (-9.2 percent), Public Transportation, Hotels & Resorts (-7.9 percent) and Technology (-5.3 percent).

At Banta Publications Group, management tracks the performance of the two distinct markets that it serves—consumer special interest and business-to-business (B2B) magazines, reports Peter Hanson, group president. “In 2003, advertising in consumer special interest magazines recovered from the recession of 2001 and 2002. That recovery was small, but fairly steady in the second half of the year. For that market, we see growth in ad pages of 2 to 4 percent next year,” Hanson says.

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