Content Marketing

Digital Ad Revenue Isn’t Making Up for Print Losses [STUDY]

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released its findings today regarding how newspapers are trying to gain revenue in the digital world.

The study focused on 38 newspapers from six companies that primarily had a circulation of less than 25,000. The most alarming trend discovered was that typically, papers are “losing print advertising dollars at seven times the rate that they were growing digital ad revenue in the last year for which they had complete data.” That means that for every $1 raised in digital ad revenue, $7 is being lost on a publication’s print advertising side. Not good.

Executives from these papers, who were interviewed anonymously, said that it may take years before the gap is closed and papers start making money from digital ads, while others feared that it might never happen. Staff members at newspapers are used to the old ways of print media, and haven’t looked into gaining revenue by embracing targeted advertising, “hosting events, creating digital retail malls that provide transaction fees or, with the exception of a few papers, becoming digital marketing consultants for their advertisers.”

highlighted by Staci D. Kramer of PaidContent, newspapers are entangled in a catch-22. They may fail if they don’t act or if they choose the wrong digital method to pursue. Neither taking risks nor holding back are options.

Since newspapers cannot afford to take either chance, it seems as if there is little hope. Even though Jordan Kurzweil of Independent Content urges newspapers to “stop rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, grow a pair, and change your businesses,” and one of the anonymous executives said, “There might be a 90% chance you’ll accelerate the decline if you gamble and a 10% chance you might find the new model. … No one is willing to take that chance.”

It’s too soon to tell if paywalls can sustain newspapers, and, according to Pew, ads on cell phones only made up 1% of digital revenue while Daily Deals and Groupon accounted for 5%. Obviously, there is no sure fire method that can save the declining industry. It’s up to the newspapers that want to step up to the plate and face potential martyrdom to lead the way.

Image courtesy of Flickr, NS Newsflash

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