Vogue, Elle, InStyle Boast Backbreakingly Huge September Issues

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The first of the September 2012 covers. Photo: Lucky Magazine

Fashion magazines have released their September issue ad-page numbers, and as always, publishers are spinning the numbers to look great and talking about how thrilled they are about the year. Predictably, Vogue comes out on top, boasting a 13 percent ad-page increase over September 2011 and their thickest magazine since 2008 (including editorial pages), according to WWD. Meanwhile, Elle breaks Hearst's record for highest total page count ever, with a 14 percent ad-page increase over last year. 

Other magazines aren't doing quite so well: Glamour was down 16 percent to 205 ad pages, which publishers are partly attributing to some adjustments after their March redesign. Meanwhile, Lucky's spokeswoman described their month as "challenging," having experienced a 26 percent decline from last year (the magazine has a relatively new publisher, Marcy Bloom). Finally, other magazines stayed relatively flat — both InStyle's and W's numbers stayed relatively the same as last year's, although InStyle's modest 2.3 percent gain was enough to make the issue its biggest ever.

Here's our breakdown of all the numbers:

Vogue: 658 ad pages, up 13 percent from September 2011 (largest issue since 2008)
Elle: 400 ad pages, up 14 percent from September 2011 (Hearst's largest issue ever) 
Allure: 131 ad pages, up 14 percent from September 2011 (also largest issue since 2008)
W: 246 ad pages, down 4 percent from September 2011
Glamour: 205 ad pages, down 16 percent from September 2011
Lucky: 136 ad pages , down 26 percent from September 2011
InStyle: 440 ad pages, up 2.3 percent from September 2011 (according to the magazine's spokeswoman, these are the "best numbers in the magazine's 18-year-history")
Harper's Bazaar: 360 ad pages, up 16.6 percent from September 2011
Marie Claire: 237 ad pages, up 23 percent from September 2011 (although these numbers are a bit skewed by the addition of the magazine's new supplement, @Work, which accounts for 20 ad pages)

These numbers are always a bit tricky to gauge, because, while ad pages can be easily counted, you never know how much advertisers are paying for them. So magazines might be as thick as ever (and therefore look robust and successful), but their ad revenues could very well be down. WWD reports that all Condé Nast titles have been ordered to cut 10 percent from their budget through the end of the year, suggesting that, while pages are plentiful, their profit margins may very well have diminished.