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Burying The Lede. And Burying The News Just Before A Holiday Weekend

Posted by: Jon Fine on August 31, 2007

The Newspaper Association of America issued a press release today,the Friday before Labor Day, which hit my inbox at precisely 12:43 PM, Eastern time.

First paragraph:

Arlington, Va. – Advertising expenditures for newspaper Web sites increased by 19.3 percent to $796 million in the second quarter versus the same period a year ago, according to preliminary estimates from the Newspaper Association of America. The increase reflects the thirteenth consecutive quarter of double digit growth for online newspaper advertising since NAA started reporting online ad spending in 2004. The continued year-over-year gains have demonstrated the importance of newspaper Web site advertising, which now accounts for seven percent of total newspaper ad spending, compared to 5.4 percent in last year’s second quarter.

Question #1: What was the overall growth rate for online advertising in the second quarter of ‘07? I’m checking this, but my gut feeling is that said growth rate is greater than 19%. Which means that newspapers are losing ad share online.

But the more salient news doesn’t come until the third paragraph. (Emphasis added.)

Total advertising expenditures at newspaper companies were $11.3 billion for the second quarter of 2007, an 8.6 percent decrease from the same period a year earlier. Spending for print ads in newspapers totaled $10.5 billion, down 10.2 percent versus the same period a year earlier.

I now understand why this press release did not go out until the afternoon preceding a long weekend.

UPDATE 9/4: eMarketer forecast total online advertising to grow 28.4% this year. They don’t do quarterly forecasts, but it seems pretty safe to conclude that newspapers’ growth lags the mean.

Also, Alan Mutter gets to the heart of the matter:

After six straight quarters of accelerating declines, newspaper print advertising sales in the first half of this year fell to the lowest level in a decade, according to statistics released today by the Newspaper Association of America.

Print revenues in the first six months of this year totaled $20.3 billion, the lowest since the $19.7 billion in sales recorded in the first half of 1997. Print ad sales in the first half of this year were 8.3% below the depressed level recorded in the same period in 2006.

This sort of backsliding hasn’t seen since…well, early this decade. When the dot-com crash hit magazines that had fattened themselves on dot-com-related ad pages, the resulting contraction brought said magazines’ ad pages back to levels last seen in the mid-nineties, or earlier. (And, yes, BusinessWeek was one of these magazines.)

Reader Comments

Robert MacMillan

September 1, 2007 11:49 AM

On the flip side (I mean that in both senses), it came out on a slow news day, meaning chances of coverage were higher. Indeed, we wrote up a quick regurgitation.

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The media world continues to shapeshift as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. On this blog, Bloomberg Businessweek will provide sharp analysis and timely reports on the transformation of this constantly changing terrain.



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