NEW YORK — Magazines are no longer the marketing monoliths they’ve long been for fashion brands.

That’s in part because the ongoing fragmentation of the media and their audience has contributed to a decline in the amount of time Americans are spending reading magazines.

Between 1998 and 2003, the time devoted to reading magazines annually fell by an average of 13 hours per person, to 121 hours, or two and a half hours a week, and it’s projected to fall another 11 hours between 2003 and 2008, according to the recently published Veronis Suhler Stevenson Communications Industry Forecast. By comparison, the time people spent using the Internet surged 138 hours per person, on average, to 176 hours, or three and two-thirds hours a week, between 1998 and 2003, and this is predicted to rise another 60 hours between 2003 and 2008, while the time they devoted to watching TV increased an average of 193 hours to 1,745 hours, or 36 and two-thirds hours a week, between 1998 and 2003; this time is expected to climb an additional 186 hours between 2003 and 2008.

That means in the past half-dozen years, people have been spending an average of 40 hours a week online and watching TV compared with just two and a half hours reading magazines. By 2008, the picture is expected to move farther in that direction, with people projected to spend an average of 49 hours a week online and watching TV versus just two and a quarter hours with magazines.

With the time people devote to reading magazines seen sliding further over the next five years as engagement with other media ascends, marketing executives and brand consultants have advised that it has become essential for fashion brands to start building marketing platforms on a broader media mix. However, in the first five months of 2004, apparel and accessories marketers allocated a bigger share of their media budgets to magazine advertising than they did in the prior-year period, or 77.6 percent versus 73.1 percent, based on data from TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. That translated to spending of $661.4 million on fashion ads in magazines between January and May, 8.6 percent more than the $609.2 million expended on the print medium a year earlier.

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