In the world of magazine advertising, September issues — with their glut of fashion and luxury pages — are typically the most important of the year. But thanks to the special onserts being packaged with a number of major titles in September, this will be a difficult year to judge. After all, it’s hard to say who, exactly, is up and who is down when there’s a comfy layer of padding obscuring what’s underneath.

Condé Nast titles will have the latest installment of “Fashion Rocks” attached to September issues going to many of their subscribers. That means Teen Vogue, which was already up over its corresponding 2005 issue, will post a 57 percent increase for September, with 269 pages. Meanwhile, even with “Fashion Rocks,” Vogue, which last year counted the first issue of Men’s Vogue as part of its September ad page totals, will be down 9.5 percent for September this year, to 625.4. Several other Condé Nast titles, such as Vanity Fair and Jane, which have seen pages dip all year, were able to file their first big percentage gains of 2006 courtesy of the onsert.

Over at Hearst, nine titles are participating in “30 Days of Fashion,” an added value program that will include a 36-page magazine going to 500,000 New York-area Hearst subscribers. That little boost wasn’t enough to keep Cosmopolitan in the black this year, after a fat September issue in 2005, though. “The September 2005 issue was the single most profitable issue in Cosmo’s history, as it was the 40th anniversary,” said a spokeswoman. “As you know, it’s always a challenge coming back after an anniversary year.”

Elsewhere, Men’s Health will run its largest issue to date, with 144 ad pages, and Maxim will log a 18.8 percent rebound, with 115 ad pages in its September issue.

Here, WWD looks at how the year and the year’s most important issue are shaping up for the major women’s, men’s and teen players. Numbers are based on publishers’ best estimates, with a little help from Publishers Information Bureau and Media Industry Newsletter.

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