As we mentioned this morning, the January issues were thin. Like a cross between a regular magazine and an Us Weekly. Not pretty, but, as when Lindsay Lohan suddenly drops fifteen pounds, impossible not to obsess over. The New York Times reports that though the average ad-page decline across monthly magazines was about 17 percent, Vogue's and Lucky's ad pages were each down about 44 percent. Allure didn't fare much better with a 41 percent decline. Condé Nast was the hardest hit among big media companies, and the only one with more than one title (Vogue and Lucky) in the top ten list of worst ad-page declines for the month.
January issues are usually thin because advertisers have just made a big December holiday push. But this year things were more difficult since January issues close early and many advertisers hadn't settled on a budget by the deadline. Also, some magazines only run a very narrow range of ad categories. Vogue only runs fashion ads, and fashion advertisers are scaling back in These Economic Times. Condé Nast also doesn't bend with pricing, which doesn't help things.
So, yeah, maybe Condé Nast's overly rigid ad rules are hurting them now, but one expert says when the economy bounces back they'll be thanking themselves for not discounting prices now and then having the awkward issue of trying to raise them. But what if they have to close more titles at that expense? February's Lucky was ominously thinner than January's Lucky, for a total of about 100 actual words to read instead of, say, 300.