Madvertzines: Ads vs Content

I don’t read dead-tree newspapers or magazines very often, but I do seem to have a subscription to the dead tree version of Wired, which reliably arrives in my work mail dip once per month.

I don’t remember subscribing (I believe it was a gift) and I don’t see a price on the front cover. Digging around on the Wired site, I see US residents can get a 12 month subscription for as little as $10, while an international subscription would be $40 for Canada or $70 for the rest of the world. I’m surprised it’s so expensive, given the number of pages given over to adverts.

In November 2007′s edition (issue 15.11), of the first 42 pages, 31 pages were advertisements. In fact, out of all 274 pages of the magazine, there were 148 pages of adverts. That’s 55% of the available space. And that generously excludes sections like this, this, this or this, each of which is either a product comparison or review.

A quick flick through September’s edition of Wired, shows that 101 out of 198 pages, or 51%, were advertisements. Slightly better, but still more than half. (October’s seems to be at work. I’ll add the count for that one when I next see it, unless someone beats me to it). I can’t help wondering what I’d need to pay for that 49% of the magazine if it had not been subsidised by adverts.

Early morning...

[Photo credit: Louise LeGresley]

Mentioning this to my wife, she tells me I should take a look at women’s magazines some time (particularly fashion magazines like Vogue, which she describes as “sickeningly what-have-I-spent-my-money-on ridiculous”). Well, I think I will.

What are the best, and the worst, magazines for advert:content ratios? Do you have any magazines nearby for which you’d like to share page counts and cover price?

3 Comments

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  1. Magazines are one of my guilty pleasures, I’ve cut down but I’m still buying 5 or 6 a week.

    I’m thinking the Argos book wins on ad content. :-)

    I do get Wired and I actually like the ads in there as they’re for things you don’t see advertised here, or that you can’t buy, or that are advertised differently in America. I also read somewhere that someone reckoned you could measure the current financial state of the tech industry by the thickness of Wired. It did get very thin in the early 2000s.

    I don’t really mind ads, even Women’s magazines that have a lot of them are all nice and glossy and beautifully produced. The thing I really don’t like are the leaflets they put inside that fall out all the time and occasionally when they have a really thick piece of card for an ad page, or a free sample of something, it means the magazine doesn’t hold itself open if you put it on the table to read while you’re eating.

    Comment by Darren — November 18, 2007 #

  2. Back in the days when I worked on MacUser, we had a ed:ad ratio of roughly 70:30, so 70% editorial content. However, if you surveyed readers and asked them roughly what percentage of the magazine was ads, they’d invariably say over 50%. In fact, very few magazines – even the big thick women’s mags – ever go over 50%, and most are below that.

    We also asked them what they’d be prepared to pay for the magazine if it had no ads, and the answer was about £5 (this was back in the day when it cost £3.50 or so). The problem was that, if you removed the advertising entirely, the actual cost of an issue would have been around £10 – which of course meant that no one would buy it!

    Comment by Ian Betteridge — November 18, 2007 #

  3. I used to have an addiction like Darren, but I’ve been weaning myself off of the hard stuff for a while now.

    Sometimes work gets so busy that piles of magazines start on my living room table and it starts to look ludicrous.

    I have a small pile now, including a couple of back issues of Wired. I took a sample of all of the magazines on my table and came up with this:

    Business 2.0: 46 pages of ads in 116 total pages (No longer in print)
    BusinessWeek: 37 / 117
    Out: 55 / 130
    Details: 62 / 158 (This one came for free with some other subscription I got. I would never buy Details on purpose :-)

    Comment by Frank Jania — November 21, 2007 #

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