More Discouraging News About Newspapers

Posted by: Jon Fine on December 6, 2007

Yesterday a bunch of newspaper companies gave presentations to investors at an annual confab sponsored by UBS.

The news, as you might expect, was not particularly heartening, but perhaps the most revealing factoid was buried in this story by the Associated Press’ Seth Sutel:

Chris Hendricks, McClatchy's head of online operations, called the company's 0.8 percent growth in online ad revenue in the year-to-date period through October "disappointing," but said McClatchy was optimistic about converting more of its online traffic into ad dollars next year.

One of the biggest newspaper companies can only increase its online ad take 0.8 percent, at a time in which the overall online ad market is growing exponentially faster? (PriceWaterhouseCoopers reports that for the first half of the year, the online ad market grew 26.4%.)

That says a few things about how well that company's Web sites, and major newspapers Web sites in general, are doing. And none of those things are good.

(Relatedly: Alan Mutter on the "growth gap" that newspapers' Web sites face.)

Reader Comments

Shane Vaughan

December 12, 2007 1:04 AM

All of the industry reports about online ad spending have been so rosy, it's a surprise to learn how badly newspapers are struggling to capture revenue from online advertising. This shows that the tremendously disruptive impact media fragmentation has had for both media owners and ad buyers. There's a lot of potential opportunity out there, and everyone is searching for the magic bullet that will bring the pieces of the puzzle together. Lots of buzz about ad exchanges and auction models, but it doesn't appear that publishers can wait that long. Maybe the solution is right under our noses. Media buyers have relied on tools like SRDS for decades, but since the disconnect persists, it seems these tools aren't completing the puzzle like they used to. But the next generation of tools offering knowledge management capabilities for improving efficiencies in the ad buying process might be what's needed to help media buyers find the ad inventory they want and help publishers get to their prospective advertisers.

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