Magazine with highest ad-to-content ratio

Sometimes people bring magazines in to the office and leave them around in the break room for perusal by all. Sometimes one of those magazines is a Vogue.

If you’re not familiar, Vogue is a women’s magazine, focusing on fashion, it’s as thick as a phonebook for a decently large town, and there’s at least 50-100 pages of ads before you even get to the table of contents. According to this blog post analyzing the September 2011 issue of Vogue, that particular issue, which I will assume is an average issue and not some special edition, is 758 pages, 584 of which are advertisements, a solid 77%.

Is it possible there is any magazine with a higher percentage of ads to content?

(And yes, a good argument could be made that the ads in Vogue are the primary “content,” but you know what I mean)

I don’t know about 77%, but some fly fishing magazines seem to be mostly a collection of ads. There isn’t really all that much difference between the content and the ads, it’s all fishing porn.

Better Homes and Gardens. There’s a reason subscriptions are free.

It’s out of business now, but in the 90s, Computer Shopper was nearly all ads. The magazine routinely ran 800 pages, with less than 100 pages of editorial material.

Ah, yes, I remember Computer Shopper! It was like Vogue for nerds.

ETA: It still exists online.

I’m not familiar enough with the likely winners, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, but GQ, Esquire and Wired all have pretty high ad-to-editorial.

The plethora of bridal magazines that come out in late fall through early spring seem to be very very high on ad percentage. But then, even the editorial in those is often “advertorial” at best when it’s not paid and placed content.

Does something like the Bingo Bugle count as a magazine? (It’s more like a pennysaver newsletter.) That’s nothing but ads.

How about Previews (that lists the comic books set for release two months from now)? Would the comic book descriptions be considered ads?

However, the first title that came to my mind was the old Computer Shopper.

The bridal magazines have to be close.

Wired’s like, every other page now. And all their advertisers use the same design style as the magazine articles. Ugh.

Many magazines hover right at the 50/50 mark. It’s an industry benchmark in many ways, and It may have once influenced things like postal rates. (That is, more than 50% ads and it didn’t qualify for magazine rates… but I’m sure that’s decades out of relevance.)

Like newspapers, magazines are also going through some tough times getting readership and advertisers.

However, magazines like Vogue have an advantage - people buy the magazine FOR the ads, as well as the content. Thus advertisers spend time and money on creating great ads and then don’t mind paying to put them where readers will actually look at the ads. If you look at some of those editions around Fashion Week, you will see very thick magazines, of which the vast majority of the pages are nothing but advertising - yet that is exactly why those copies are snatched up so quickly.

My guess is that Rolling Stone readers don’t mind seeing ads for new albums, concert tours and other related music items (headsets, sound systems, etc.) - they want to read those ads.

Time Magazine, however, will not have readers who want to see tons of ads there - they just want to read the articles and not be bothered with advertising.

Wedding magazines win the prize. This is an old site, but it shows Bride’s magazine weighing in with a whopping 93% advertising. A 2012 study showed Vogue with a meager 72%.

The September Issue is Vogue’s special issue. It’s the biggest one of the year and the one people buy for the ads.

Aha. I did not know that.

During the 1980s and at least the early '90s, Byte magazine was at least an inch thick every month and seemed to be at least 75% ads. But DDAMN there was some good stuff in between the ads, too (at least back in the early-mid '80s when I read it regularly).

Those regional travel magazines, such as Sunset, the last half of the mags are nothing but ads in tiny print.

It was the very first sentence of the blog post you linked to:

Fair enough.

Apparently there are two outliers, which would be the September issues at the high end and the January issues at the low end.

Okay, then going by the chart on this page, I calculate about 221 pages of ads per issue, and just looking at few of the Vogues sitting around the office (I’ve got a February 2012 issue with 236 pages, a December 2013 with 312 pages, and a February 2013 with 284 pages), I would estimate an average number of pages at about 275.

That’s 80%.

In fact, there’s a documentary called The September Issue that follows Anna Wintour and others as they prepare the September 2007 issue.

But Computer Shopper is the first thing I thought of.