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Magazines – Glossary

Ad pages

The total number pages of advertising published, based on an actual count of ads in a publication.

Ad dollars

Publishers Information Bureau estimates of advertising revenues, derived by combining official ad rates and published pages. It multiplies the rate magazines charge on their rate card by the number of ad pages they published. The resulting estimate is an imprecise representation of actual ad revenue because advertisers often get discounted prices from the rate card. Because of various discounts and incentives, experts say that actual revenue is often half what the reported ad dollars would suggest. For this reason we are not using these estimates.

Bureau

An office for gathering or distributing news. Similar terms are used for specialized bureaus, often to indicate geographic location or scope of coverage: a Tokyo bureau refers to a given news operation’s office in Tokyo, Japan; foreign bureau is a generic term for a news office set up in a country other than the primary operations center; a Washington bureau is an office, typically located in Washington, D.C., that covers news related to national politics in the United States.

Circulation

A magazine’s total net paid subscriptions and single copies (newsstands). Subscriptions may include digital subscriptions i.e. websites’ subscriptions circulation.

Consumer Magazines

Not including farm and religious magazines, as well as publications which are not filed.

Digital magazine (replica)

Where the advertising and editorial content exactly match the printed publication. (Audit Bureau of Circulations)

Digital magazine (nonreplica)

Where the basic identity and content are similar to the printed edition but the articles and advertising may differ. Free, unrestricted public access to a Web site does not qualify as a paid digital edition. (Audit Bureau of Circulations)

Single Copy Sales

Also called newsstand sales. Single copies of magazines sold at retail. Most single-copy sales are made in supermarkets and other mass retail outlets. Many publishers also distribute through specialty stores.

Social media

Online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other.

Social Networking

Web sites that allow people to link to others to share opinions, insights experiences and perspectives, whether it’s music fans on MySpace, business contacts on LinkedIn, or classmates on Facebook. Many media sites have adopted social networking features such as blogs, message boards, podcasts and wikis to help build online communities around their content.

Unique Visitors

The number of inferred individual people (filtered for spiders and robots), within a designated reporting timeframe, with activity consisting of one or more visits to a site. Each individual is counted only once in the unique visitor measure for the reporting period.

 

Backgrounders

Rate Base

Some declines in circulation are by design. All three of the traditional news weeklies in the United States, for example, have been actively trying to reduce the minimum circulation the publications guarantee to advertisers in recent years.

Why would a magazine seek to reduce the number of copies it distributes?

The biggest share of revenue a magazine takes in comes from advertising, with a much smaller share from subscriptions and sales of individual copies. Advertising rates are based on a promised circulation number for each issue. This number is often lower than actual circulation.

If a magazine fails to deliver the promised circulation, a publisher has to refund advertisers a portion of the rate, based on how short circulation falls.

Publishers make certain that they meet the guaranteed circulation, or advertising rate base, mostly by attracting readers through incentives. And some offer steep discounts to subscribers to meet this goal, discounts that can cut into any profits.

With a slow erosion of ad sales at magazines since the mid-1990s—and significantly fewer ads bought in 2008—publishers have reconsidered the cost-effectiveness of trying to maintain high circulation bases.

Ad Pages vs. Ad Dollars

Divining the financial health of a magazine is challenging.

Two of the biggest owners of magazines — Hearst and Advance (the owner of Condé Nast)— are privately held companies, and as such are not required to issue public financial reports. Even the publicly traded media companies that do issue reports generally do not break out revenue figures for specific magazines.

The Publishers Information Bureau offers estimates by combining ad rates and published pages. It multiplies the ad prices magazines list on their rate cards by the number of ad pages they published. The resulting estimate is an imprecise representation of actual ad revenue because advertisers often get discounted prices from the rate card. Because of various discounts and incentives, experts say that actual revenue is often half what the reported ad dollars would suggest.

The figures for how many pages of advertising were published, on the other hand, are based on an actual count of ads in a publication.