Brenda Saget Darling isn't an auto executive, a dealer or a supplier. But the collapse of U.S. car and truck sales is afflicting her business all the same.
Darling is publisher of More, a glossy monthly magazine aimed at women over 40. In the past year, she says, many of her automotive advertisers have gone from buying expensive inserts and gatefold covers to single-page ads to no ads at all.
Although she declined to quantify the drop in her magazine's auto ad revenue, Darling concedes that car companies "have canceled quite a bit of print, and we were a casualty of that."
She has plenty of company. Last year automakers spent $1.35 billion to advertise in U.S. consumer magazines — a 23 percent decline from the $1.75 billion spent in 2007, reports the ad-tracking firm TNS Media Intelligence.
That was the largest annual dollar drop in five years, TNS says. Comparable figures were not available for the first quarter of 2009.
"The overall bucket is down," says Ellen Oppenheim, chief marketing officer of the Magazine Publishers of America, a trade group. "Like all businesses, we're trying to maintain business in an industry that is rapidly shifting."
To keep their automotive clients, many magazines are cutting their ad rates and increasingly linking print ad campaigns to digital content and special events, publishers and auto marketers say.