Still more rough news for newspapers, as 2nd Quarter ad revenues just came in from the Newspaper Association of America.
Total ad revenues slipped 6.4 percent from 2Q 2011, down to $5.6 billion. That breaks down to a 7.9 percent drop in print ad income, softened a bit by a 2.9 percent increase in online ad revenues.
But publishers had been hoping for a larger rise in online ad money, which many see as the only real hope for the long-term future of the newspaper business. Online advertising income is still a fairly small part of total newspaper income, at $827 million, or 14.7 percent of total newspaper ad revenues in the 2nd Quarter. Photo: Fast Company Online newspaper ads have consistently failed to even come close to the growth of digital advertising overall.
What's the problem here? Part of it, I think, is that there's such a dizzying wealth of venues for advertisers to choose from. Newspaper online sites face tough competition from other online platforms that are seen as more exciting or more contemporary. In many cases, other sites are seen as more exciting not by consumers but by young media buyers and planners, who have not grown up reading newspapers.
Newspapers have a solid story to tell the ad community, explaining how many of their sites have become much more than a digital version of the print paper. Newspaper sites now have expanded photo coverage, video journals that can rival news coverage and analysis on local TV stations. They have reader comments and opinion, often with back & forth comments from readers that can get feisty and fun to follow.
Maybe the newspaper industry needs to mount a concerted effort to tell the story of their expanding online editions to the ad and marketing community. Several years ago, the syndicated TV producers and distributors undertook an effort to tell their story to young ad buyers who didn't understand the distinct ways their media platform could deliver. It worked. I know, because I was involved in the effort, handling trade PR for the Syndicated Network Television Association.
So perhaps the Newspaper Association of America should undertake such an effort on behalf of the nation's newspapers. It could help improve the growth rate of online ads for newspapers, providing much-needed revenue to make up for growing losses in print ads. It could help keep the newspaper business alive. It's an effort that shouldn't be put off any longer.