Stat Report: Magazine Publishers Get Stingy But Find Stability
2009 was not a kind year to magazine publishers, obviously. Crain's New York Business recently reported that 367 U.S. periodicals closed their doors in 2009 and 64 went to digital-only. However, oddly enough given the economy distress and the explosion of digital media, the pace of decline actually slowed, as 526 U.S. magazines closed in 2008 and 573 went down the tubes in 2007.
Of course, fewer magazines have been launched in this climate, with 247 titles started in 2009 compared to 342 in 2008 and 411 in 2007. All of this could mean that the magazine field is actually stabilizing, with the struggling magazines going away and less duplication in certain categories.
This potential stabilizing is visible in the direct mail that magazine publishers sent out in 2009. Measured by our Who's Mailing What! Archive, which has cataloged all direct mail through the end of October, magazine categories include general interest, women's, men's, business/financial, regional, computer and special interest.
The first statistic to look at is its presence in the mailstream. In 2009, magazine publishing actually grew in percentage from previous years, partly because other sectors like financial services cut back. Overall, 8.2 percent of the mailstream was magazine-related direct mail, and that represents a 5 percent increase from 2008 and a whopping 38 percent increase from 2007.
The other major trend was that controls also grew in 2009, continuing what 2008 had started. Indeed, after only 40 percent of magazine mail were controls in 2007, it exploded by 7.1 percentage points in 2008 and then another 4.7 percentage points last year. That's a 23 percent increase over two years in the use of controls, indicating that publishers are being more stingy with their creative and many are sticking with the most recent incarnation of their vouchers, magalogs or 6? x 11-1/2? mailers, for example.