A Guide to Competitive Media

RAB's new Competitive Media section gives you complete access to the latest information profiling 10 competitive media. Each profile contains a complete whitepaper as well as the advantages, disadvantages and plus Radio for each medium.

This section also gives you the option to build custom media profiles reflecting specific talking points in a colorful, street-ready one sheet.


  • A total of 193 new magazines were launched in 2010 (down from 324 in 2009), while 176 ceased publication (down from 596 the previous year). (, 2011)

    Circulation totals for magazines declined more than 6% in 2010 to 325,237,070, which includes both paid subscription and single-copy sales. Paid subscriptions are responsible for 90% of the total. (Magazine Publishers of America, 2011)

    Excluding AARP The Magazine and the AARP Bulletin, magazines with the highest paid circulation totals in 2010: 1. Better Homes and Gardens; 2. Reader's Digest; 3. Game Informer Magazine; 4. National Geographic; 5. Good Housekeeping; 6. Woman's Day; 7. Family Circle; 8. Ladies' Home Journal; 9. People; 10. Time. (Magazine Publishers of America, 2011)

    Immediacy of reading a typical magazine issue: Same day I receive it, 44%; within 2-3 days, 34%; within 1 week, 14%; within 2 weeks, 5%; 2 weeks or longer, 3%. (Magazine Publishers of America, 2010)

    Magazine ad sales including consumer magazines, business-to-business magazines, Sunday magazines, local magazines and Spanish-language magazines grew 2.9% in 2010. Advertising revenues for consumer magazines increased 3.3% in 2010, while spending was also up for Sunday magazines (+4.6%), local magazines (+0.9%) and Spanish-language magazines (+5.5%). Spending in B-to-B publications was down 1.2% in 2010. (Kantar Media, 2011)

    Categories spending the most money on magazine ads in 2010: 1. Toiletries & Cosmetics; 2. Food & Food Products; 3. Drugs & Remedies; 4. Apparel & Accessories; 5. Retail; 6. Media & Advertising; 7. Automotive; 8. Home Furnishings & Supplies; 9. Direct Response Companies; 10. Financial, Insurance & Real Estate. (Magazine Publishers of America, 2011)

    By company, the top magazine advertisers in 2010: 1. Procter & Gamble; 2. L'Oreal SA; 3. General Motors; 4. Kraft Foods; 5. Johnson & Johnson; 6. Pfizer; 7. Nestle SA; 8. Time Warner; 9. Unilever; 10. Joh. A. Benckiser GMBH. (Magazine Publishers of America, 2011)

    The ad placement achieving the highest rate of recall by magazine readers is the back cover, while gatefold ads are the most effective ad size. Four-color presentations make the strongest impression on readers, followed by black and white ads. (Magazine Publishers of America, 2010)

    The average price of a single copy of a magazine was $4.86 in 2009 (up from $3.83 in 2000), while the average price of a 1-year basic magazine subscription was $28.86 in 2009 (up from $24.83 in 2000). (Magazine Publishers of America, 2010)

    Paid circulation revenue for magazines amounted to $8.751 billion in 2010 (down 3.6% from 2009), with subscription sales accounting for 71.4% of the total. (Magazine Publishers of America, 2011)

    The number of consumer magazines with Web sites increased from 5,395 in 2006 to 8,092 in 2010. (MediaFinder, 2010)

    The top 5 newsstand outlets for magazine sales (share of overall revenue): Supermarkets, 33%; supercenters, 16%; drugstores, 12%; bookstores, 11%; (tie) terminals and mass merchandisers, 7%. (Magazine Publishers of America, 2011)

    Magazines with the largest single-copy sales in 2010: 1. Cosmopolitan; 2. People; 3. Woman's World; 4. First; 5. US Weekly; 6. In Touch Weekly; 7. In Style; 8. Family Circle; 9. O, The Oprah Magazine; 10. People StyleWatch. (Magazine Publishers of America, 2011)

  • Targetability: With a range of titles that appeal to a wide variety of demographics, lifestyles and interests, advertisers can focus on those consumers that fit their needs.

    Strong Visuals: Magazine ads can be highly creative and aesthetically appealing through the effective use of photography, graphics, color and copy.

    Portability: With the exception of in-car reading, magazines can be carried by consumers and read almost anywhere, at any time.

    Advertorial: An in-depth advertising message can be created to appear more like editorial copy than an advertisement, although most magazines require such advertorials to be identified as advertising rather than editorial content.

    Localizing: Regional/local editions, polywrap inserts, and local "vista" magazines offer local advertising opportunities.

    Engagement Options: Ads can be viewed/studied at readers' leisure.

  • Competition: There are too many magazines – and too many choices. Advertisers and consumers have more than 20,000 magazine titles from which to choose. The proliferation in the number of magazines means audience fractionalization, and most magazines actually miss most of their avowed target audiences.

    Time: Adults spent an average of 20 minutes per day with magazines in 2010, down from 25 minutes in 2008 (these 20 minutes can also include simultaneous use of other media, such as listening to the radio or watching TV). (eMarketer, 2010)

    Clutter: Magazines contain so much advertising that ad readership and recall is minimal. In 2009, the ratio for consumer magazines was 44% advertising pages and 56% editorial pages. (Magazine Publishers of America, 2011)

    Inflexible: Because of lead time, advertising must be prepared long before publication dates, prohibiting advertisers from responding instantly to changing market conditions.

    Expensive: Increased distribution and production costs have forced magazines’ cost-per-thousand to rise dramatically in recent years.

    Reader Information: Specific issue audience data is not typically available.

    Long Shelf Life: Makes it difficult to promote a time-sensitive message.

  • Excellent Reach: Although adults typically only browse through a fraction of all the titles in the magazine rack, Radio’s superior reach (93% of adults each week and 72% of adults each day) can draw attention to the magazine just for them…and your ad. (Arbitron RADAR 108, 2011)

    Clutter: Radio can break through the ad clutter found in magazines by conditioning readers to identify with – and respond to – your magazine advertising. You can improve on magazines' low ad readership and recall scores by adding a cost-efficient Radio schedule to your media mix. This way you can extend the reach against your target consumer and build the message frequency necessary to a successful campaign.

    Inflexible: Lead time is measured in days or weeks for a magazine ad. Radio requires a lead time in terms of hours. Add flexibility to your ad campaigns by utilizing Radio.

Other Competitive Media Resources

In this section, you'll find links to information profiling media OTHER than radio. Below are links to Weekly Sales Meetings, Whitepapers, special reports and other articles that you can use to help your advertisers understand the important role of Radio in supporting ANY marketing effort.

Please make your selection from the lists below and don't forget, you can always call RAB's Member Response Helpline at 1-800-232-3131 for more information.