Ad spending in the gay and lesbian press has grown at almost three times the rate of other consumer magazines over the past ten years in the U.S., according to a major annual survey released this week.

Ad spending in gay and lesbian publications in 2006 reached a record $223.3 million, an increase of 5.2% over 2005 and an increase of 205% since 1996, according to the 2006 edition of the Gay Press Report, an annual survey produced by advertising agency Prime Access Inc. and gay media representative firm Rivendell Media.

During the same ten-year period, ad revenues for all consumer magazines increased by only 47%, translating to a compound annual growth rate of 4% for consumer magazines versus a ten-year growth rate of 11.8% for gay media.

Howard Buford, founder and president of Prime Access, Inc., said the report reflects how far both corporate America and gay media have evolved since 1996, a watershed year that saw Ellen DeGeneres come out on prime time television and on the cover of Time magazine.

“This year’s report confirms how, in just one decade, gay and lesbian consumers have gone from an overlooked niche to an audience that Fortune 500 companies are working overtime to reach,” said Buford. “The numbers make it clear that corporate America recognises and values both the spending power and influence of gay consumers.”

Among Fortune 500 brands, more than 183 were active in the GLBT consumer market (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) in 2006, up from only 19 in 1994. Currently, the most popular product categories among these Fortune 500 brands are travel, financial services, automotive, fashion and entertainment.

“Over the past ten years, the gay market has become one of the most coveted demographics in the advertising industry,” said Todd Evans, president and CEO of Rivendell. “Gay and lesbian consumers have more discretionary time than their straight counterparts, and Fortune 500 companies and local businesses alike are committing more and more advertising dollars to reach them. Higher brand loyalty and less advertising clutter also make the GLBT market quite attractive.”

The 2006 Gay Press Report provides a unique, historical perspective on the gay and lesbian market. This year’s survey analysed 131 individual publications targeting gay and lesbian consumers, including local and national newspapers, consumer magazines and entertainment guides.

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