Digital numbers trend wrong way for newspapers

Posted April 28, 2014

By Ken Doctor, Nieman Labs, Harvard University

At a few smart legacy news companies, there’s digital advertising growth and smart strategy. But most newspaper companies are finding the important numbers are still headed in the wrong direction.

As we approach the middle of the 2010s, where do newspapers fit in the battle for America’s largest ad sector — digital? And how well are all those paywalls doing?

Two reports tumbled into the public sphere within a week of each other recently, and together, they help us answer both questions.

The numbers here show that the newspaper industry overall — a relative minority of leading-edge players aside — is trending the wrong way. Both digital ad revenue and reader revenue continue to grow, but both are less positive than they were a year ago.

Let’s start with the overall digital ad market.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 2013 full year report is its usual rosy self. Ten years ago, IAB had to explain what it was. Now, it tracks the country’s No. 1 ad type — digital. Digital ads passed broadcast TV for the first time, and by a healthy margin, $2.7 billion. Passing TV is another milestone, coming just a year after digital surpassed print (newspaper + magazine) spending. Now, its lead over newspapers, as seen in the IAB chart below, is more than two to one, $42.8 billion to what IAB counts as newspapers’ $18 billion.


To read more, go here: