Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Has the advertising free-fall slowed?

Posted on | January 7, 2010 | 2 Comments

Don’t break out the Champagne just yet, but signs are emerging that perhaps the advertising collapse for newspapers and magazines is slowing and leveling off. Still, publications have a long way to go to get with the program.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week:

A year-end flurry of ad spending helped moderate steep declines at some newspapers and magazines, and has fueled an uptick at others, raising hopes for a recovery in 2010.

John Janedis, an analyst with Wells Fargo securities, upgraded several publishing houses with the optimistic note:

“Given current trends, we now expect approx. high single digit decline in overall newspaper advertising in 2010.”

I suspect two main factors are driving this cautious optimism:

  1. As the economy recovers overall ad spending is coming back (slowly). Printed publications aren’t dead yet.
  2. Marketers realize the integrated campaigns means integrated campaigns and that there’s still life in the old printing press.

Still, marketers, are wary of print’s future, and who can blame them after decades of watching print’s ostrich-like reaction to market changes and lame early responses to clever digital competitors? They’re shells of themselves and the gutting of newsrooms has yielded not just thin editions but thin reporting.

That said, there’s some bright spots.

  • SeeClickFix is a new site that, in part, builds conversation about community issues and is being used by citizen media to bird-dog and fix non-emergency problems, like graffiti pot-holes and malicious homeless folks.
  • The New York Times Magazine reported on the “existential angst” of online magazines. Interesting read and one that might be printed out and posted on the walls of print magazines trying to create their own future. Your day will come though when e-readers hit their stride later this year. I’m frankly looking forward to that.

So perhaps the free-fall is slowing, but it’s certainly not over, and print franchises online have much work ahead of it to make itself useful in the digital age.

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2 Responses to “Has the advertising free-fall slowed?”

  1. bfuller9 (Brian Fuller)
    January 8th, 2010 @ 7:04 am

    Twitter Comment

    The advertising free-fall has slowed but media has a much work to do to make it end: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  2. Lou Covey
    January 11th, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

    In starting to consult to newspaper execs in the past few months, I’ve learned that most publications are not using comprehensive approaches to the web. Instead they are buying software/support packages from multiple vendors for individual portions of their online news. One paper spends $3500 a month on a product for posting obituaries, alone.
    The entire industry needs to take a hard look at how they gather, report and support news dissemination. Online advertising is part of the answer to an overall program, but they have to make it profitable.

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