Gay-specific adverting in the gay press hit a record high last year, according to the 2009 Gay Press Report, an annual survey of advertising in the gay media.

Advertising that directly portrays gay and lesbian consumers and their lives in LGBT publications hit an all-time high of 61.9%, the survey reported. In 2002, only 9.9% of all ads were gay-specific.

“We continue to find that gay-specific advertising is by far the most effective with this audience, producing the biggest return on investment,” said Howard Buford, CEO and founder of Prime Access, the New York-based advertising firm, which, along with media firm Rivendell Media, has produced the report since 1999.

The report also found that spending in the gay press jumped to an all-time high of $349.6 million last year, up from $307.7 million in 2008. Revenues have grown 377% since 1996.

During three years early in the decade – 2001 to 2003 – spending in the gay press contracted, with the largest decreased coming in 2003, which saw a 17.8% drop. Growth failed to reach double digits from 2005 to 2007.

Last year's growth comes as the media industry faced one of its toughest years, with revenues for consumer magazines down 15.6% over the same time period – its lowest point since 1998.

“The numbers do not lie, and even I was surprised at how gay media held its own in such a tough market,” Todd Evans, president and CEO of Rivendell Media, said. “Gay media sales have always doubled in past recessions as companies focus their media on their best customers. While we didn't see that kind of increase this year, the numbers are still significant.”