Private Frazer’s Doomed Magazines

November 12, 2008

Clearout expected

Filed under: Chair by the door,figures,Recession — privatefraser @ 11:48 am

The latest figures from the regional newspaper group Johnston Press might not seem to have huge significance for our industry, but the self-explanatory headline from the Guardian (Property ad revenue down by nearly half at Johnston Press titles) shows why it does.

If I were sitting in Archant Life with its huge swathe of free regional magazines, funded, in the most part, by property adverts, I’d be a wee bit nervous about my job and my company. Similarly, The London Magazine, which used to be an absolute doorstop of a title, is noticeably thinner. As this title is financed by a consortium of 38 estate agents one can imagine budgets are going to be tighter next year, and this is going to be true outside the metropolis as well. We’ve already seen some of the ‘me too’ property advert magazines go down and we can expect carnage in this market.

But it goes broader. IPC’s Country Life is famously expensive to produce and equally famously packed with upmarket houses. Or it was. Will Country Life itself be on the market soon? The ad:ed ratio in Conde Nast’s property section seems to be getting worse by the issue; we’re starting to see the overseas property titles go down (which is going to hit the other bit of Archant); B2B titles in the property sector are suffering too. We can also expect a few estate agent chains to go bust soon which will add bad debt to publishers’ problems.

And let’s be clear about this, the cyclical crisis is the coda to the flight of property advertising to the web. When the housing market recovers the market for property advertising in print won’t.  Be afraid, be very afraid.

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