HOW CORONAVIRUS AFFECTS MAGAZINES

Advertising experts expect the first signs to start to appear in the June issues and by September, the most important month of the year for magazines, the decline will be clearly visible, especially for those that depend on luxury brand advertising. Independent magazines will likely feel the pain more quickly.

Vogue is just one of many monthly fashion and lifestyle magazines that won’t have much COVID-19 content apart from it being mentioned in the editor in chief’s note and maybe a couple more references, if anything at all, with most wrapping up their newest issues before large parts of the U.S. were forced to ground to a halt. It’s not just the content that won’t reflect what’s happening in the outside world. While down significantly from the long-gone heyday of magazine publishing, there will still no doubt be a decent amount of advertisements from luxury brands in these titles at a time when many have closed their stores, are making face masks instead of clothes and handbags, and have slashed their marketing budgets due to the global plunge in their revenues over the first few months of the year.

Many titles have beleaguered already, propped up by generous owners or operating under commercial models that simply can’t withstand 21st Century reality. Some are going bust as you read this.

Much of what was going to happen in any case would happen suddenly. The publishing history is suddenly accelerated. The shift from print to digital at virtually all publications will be radically sped up. A lot of publishers are simply going to run out of cash. One regional publisher has being ringing up contractors asking if it can delay payments by three months at least.

That’s because, unlike newspapers, the impact of the coronavirus crisis on advertising won’t immediately be seen in glossy magazines since they have a lead time of around two to three months. As a result, many of these ads would have been sold before there were any confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S.Just over a month ago, before most of the U.S. was working from home, MediaVillage analyst Jack Myers was predicting consumer print magazine advertising revenue would drop around 2.8 percent in 2020 due to COVID-19. Now he is forecasting a fall of more than 16 percent for the industry as a whole and for some publishers to underperform their 2020 budget expectations or revenue expectations by as much as 50 percent.

Like many other media companies, Vox’s advertising issues come despite record engagement. In the same memo, he highlighted that the week of March 23 was the greatest week for new subscriptions since New York Magazine launched its digital subscription product in 2018, although it did not mention print.

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