CLOSING THE GAP: For the first time in eight years, Self magazine is giving Shape — its longtime rival and category leader — a run for its money.

Since 2004, Shape has held a substantial lead in ad pages, with the differential reaching as high as 290 pages in 2010. This time last year, that figure was narrowed to 178 pages. With the July issue, Self has moved to within nine pages of Shape, according to the latest figures from Media Industry Newsletter.

This story first appeared in the June 22, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Kristen Elliott, Shape’s new publisher, said she’s well aware of the renewed race for advertising and the title has a few changes she believes will make a difference. A new trim size will soon be introduced (Shape will now be the same size as Women’s Health), and an upgrade in paper stock will begin with the August issue. “It’s whiter paper and makes every ad and piece of edit have a nice, bright quality,” she said.

These investments mean the publishing schedule will move to 10 times a year, instead of monthly. “Men’s Fitness did this in the spring, as well,” Elliott said.

She acknowledged it’s been a challenging year, adding that with the “corporate deals going on out there, some people fared better than others this year.” Of course, she was referring to Self.

It will come as no surprise that Laura McEwen, Self’s publisher, has a different take on the magazine’s recent success. “Some of the reasons that Self is gaining market share: unmatched Condé Nast quality content; extraordinary digital success; innovative marketing programs, including the industry’s first social game, and surging total audience,” she said. “Women are passionate active lifestyle consumers, and the Self brand has never been stronger.”

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