Magazine Ad Spend To Drop Even More Steeply Than Circ Figures: PwC

hand browsing through stack of magazines

Print magazines have had quite a bashing over the past few years with circulation figures dropping lower and lower due to digital growing exponentially. However, one worrying trend that appears to show no sign of slowing down is the gap between the depleting number of ad dollars given to print magazines compared to the number of people who pay for magazines.

Emma Mackenzie
Posted by Emma Mackenzie

The latest annual projections coming out of professional services network PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) show for 2019 consumers spending the moolah on print magazines will drop from $775 million in 2014 to $722 million in 2019, a drop of $53 million.

However, it’s expected ad spend in consumer magazines will fall almost double that, from $453 million in 2014 to $351 million in 2019.

Aussie editor of the PwC report, Megan Brownlow, told B&T publishers are justified in feeling a put out by this.

“The previous rule that eyeballs equal revenue seems to be being challenged,” she said.

“You’ve got a situation where it’s almost like magazines have gone out of fashion and the readers are still there in bigger numbers than the advertising revenue suggests.”

Measurement of magazines and readership is playing a part in the issue though, suggested Brownlow, as in digital you’ve got oodles of data at your fingertips, which “buyers think it’s the more accountable sector”.

Readership data from companies such as Roy Morgan  and Ipsos with its enhanced media metrics Australia (emma) data are a “step in the right direction” for the industry, however she added, “whether or not that’s having traction with agencies is debateable”.

Brownlow instead lauds over the trade campaigns in numerous publications that talk about the power and positive attributes of magazines as “that’s exactly how consumers feel about magazines”.

“It’s just a disadvantage not being able to attribute that love and engagement as clearly as you can through a click,” she said.

Since the surge of digital and the drop of print circulation figures, magazine publishers had hoped transitioning the printed copy online in a downloadable format would help scale the dropping figures.

The uptake hasn’t had the desired outcome though, prompting Peter Zavecz, CEO of mag publishing giant Pacific Magazines, to tell PwC when people interact with a magazine they want a ‘lean back’ experience, rather than flicking through on an iPad or the like.

“It’s just a signal that readers have a different experience [with a magazine], the more functionality [built into the app] the less the response by consumers,” he said in the report.

Longer and deeper brand partnerships was another core trend PwC saw emerging, with the likes of Pac Mags’ marie claire and Girlfriend creating The Parcel, a beauty product filled entity consumers can sign up – a partnership between consumers, the magazine and numerous beauty brands.


Meanwhile, over in the land of newspapers, the digital market advertising market and the print ad market are nearing each other more and more.

Per the report, circulation revenues is expected to provide the majority of revenue, however the ad spend will deplete, a not unexpected trend.

The current projection is a drop in print ad spend of $834m by 2019, roughly half of the ad spend in 2014 ($1,667m).

By 2019, PwC predicts newspaper circulation print spending will drop by about half, from $1,218 million in 2014 to $612 million in 2019.

However digital spending will hopefully increase from $76m to $372m by 2019.