Thursday, June 7, 2012

Newspapers see slowing growth in digital advertising as revenue rose only 1%; NYT see decline in digital ads

The news, reported by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), that digital ad revenue growth at newspapers has stalled is causing more than a little soul searching this morning. Is the decline causes strictly be economic factors or indicative of the general decline at newspapers?

First the numbers: the NAA reported that digital advertising revenue at newspapers increased a mere 1 percent from the same period a year ago. Many of the industry's top players actually saw declines. The New York Times, for instance, saw its digital revenue fall at its web properties in NYC and Boston by 2.3 percent. The Washington Post recorded a steeper 7 percent decline in the first quarter of this year, much of this attributed to its ailing online magazine Slate.

The usual media gurus were, of course, consulted. "The online share that newspapers are getting is smaller even though it's the greatest goldmine of advertising growth we've seen in a generation," Reuters quoted Ken Doctor, who is always called upon for a quote.

The reality is that newspapers are doing what they always have done, attempt to sell their same old products in the same old way. While new digital platforms have created tremendous opportunities in the area of mobile and tablets, many newspaper companies are launching ad-free digital apps and pursuing paid content strategies – pushed on by the industry's leading guru.

So, let's lament the decline in growth of digital advertising in newspapers, let's celebrate it. This is what the industry has been striving for and it looks like it is finally succeeding.