Circulation figures released last week by ABC seem to paint a picture of decline in the men’s glossy magazine market, as previously popular men’s titles have seen circulations fall.

For instance, men’s mag FHM, published by Emap, has seen its circulation figures fall 25.9% in the second half of 2006, to 371,263. In 1999, its figures were nearer 700,000.

Other titles, including Loaded and Maxim, saw sales drop by around 30%. There was also a decline in sales for men’s weeklies Zoo and Nuts.

Though men’s magazines were the biggest losers in the ABC figures, sales in general have remained static, prompting speculation that print media is losing out to online competition.

Recent figures from Jupiter Research suggest that the time spent on the internet has overtaken that spent reading print media. In addition, online ad spend is overtaking newspaper advertising.

The answer for many publishers may well be to move their titles online. In the case of FHM, their online site attracts 1.6m monthly visitors and digital media accounts for over 10% of its revenues.

The problem faced by magazines moving online is whether, with advertising yields lower, publishers can make enough money online to make up for declining print sales.

Speaking to The Observer, IPC’s digital director Neil Robinson points out that, while 30% of leisure time is spent online, it only accounts for 14% of ad spend, so there is room there for online revenue to grow.

Publishers are moving online more and more, and some have experienced success online. For instance, men’s weekly Zoo, whose sales fell 22% to 260,470, has boosted its online traffic by 157% after introducing user-generated content to its website.

IPC, which publishes Loaded and NME, will be increasing its investment online this year, with chief executive Sylvia Auton claiming that “2007 will be the year IPC becomes big in digital”.

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