As tends to be the case with most great revelations, the idea for this article came to me while sitting on the toilet. I was flipping through Surfer and was struck by how many pages I had to flip through before I got to any meaningful content or articles. Everything else was advertisements. How many ads do I have to not look at to read Surfer? How many ads does Surfer need to run in order to print a magazine?
I needed an answer, and I knew my curiosity would not be satiated by suppositions and hearsay. And in lieu of calling Surfer to get an answer, I turned to the only tool I had for obtaining the truth: Science.
I rummaged around the house for nine Surfer magazines from 2007 and 2008. With vague notions of 12th grade science class and the scientific method, I formed a hypothesis: I assumed I would find that the magazines would be 60% ads and 40% editorial content (editorial content being defined as articles, movie and gear reviews, pictures chosen by Surfer; (basically anything that is not there because it was paid for by a surf company or Jeep.)
To test this hypothesis, I needed to find the ratio of pages with ads to pages with editorial content. Most ads take up an entire page and I counted these pages as 1, but some ads are only a column on half the page. These pages I counted as .5 regardless of whether they took up 25% or 75% of the page.
After spending way too much time flipping through 200 page Surfer magazines, and realizing that this is probably going to be the most boring article on dailystoke.com since its inception, I sat down and looked at my results.
I was wrong!
Out of nine magazines, 998 pages were ads and 921 pages were editorial content. After a little math (pages with ads/total pages=percent of pages with ads), I found that 52% of Surfer’s pages are ads, thus making 48% of the pages editorial content. Within my sample, the July 2007 issue topped out at 55% ads. The low end being 48% in the January 2008 issue.
- If you want to publish a magazine, you need to fill a little over half of it with ads.
- A large sample would give us more accurate results, but would be an ungodly waste of time.
- Most importantly, I should spend more time with an attractive young lady who bakes me cookies than do silly science for my articles.
- I am kind of curious to see how the other surf magazines compare.
The article was first published March 3, 2009