Try to hide your shock, but ad pages are down pretty much across the board in this year's September issues, compared with last year's numbers. Many titles extended deadlines for advertisers and many publishers seem uneasy with talking about figures any earlier than necessary, according to Ad Age. Early numbers reveal that Elle's September ad pages are down 21 percent from last year, bringing the issue from 413.5 to 326.7 pages. Essence estimates it will carry 105 ad pages, down 16.1 percent from last year. Though dismal, these numbers are actually encouraging for both Elle and Essence, because ad-page declines were steeper in March — the month of spring fashion issues and the second most important month for magazine advertisers, after September. Publishers say advertisers have realized the economy might not be getting better, but that it doesn't seem to be getting worse, and are comfortable shelling out more for September placement.
As for September's annual mammoth of a Vogue? It'll probably be more like a plain elephant this year. Condé Nast's numbers will be released tomorrow, but Vogue recently told the New York Post that ad pages would top 400. A total of 400 ad pages would equal a 41 percent decline from last September; one rumor going around numbers September Vogue's pages at 450. By contrast, Vogue's March ad pages were down only 25 percent. Some of this year's September losses can be attributed to the absence of the Fashion Rocks supplement, which is on hiatus owing to the recession, and carried 66 ad pages last year. Harper's Bazaar will also be thinner — ad pages are expected to number between 275 and 285, representing a decline of 23 to 26 percent.
But at least one magazine will be fatter this September — People Style Watch. Last September, the title ran 73 ad pages, but this year's issue boasts 10 percent more. "It will be our biggest issue ever," the publisher bragged. Great news! As long as those extra pages don't make way for special bonus spreads on how to get Jon Gosselin's Ed Hardy stylings or Kim Kardashian's favorite waist belts.