Newspaper Publishers to Emphasize Online Growth as Print Erodes

For newspaper publishers, traditional print demand from advertisers continues to slow. This industry is making headway in the online market with some well-​known names now appearing in the Top 50 online sites.  And as we approach the fourth quarter, newspaper publishers will be aggressively courting marketers in specific industries with their best proposals for both online and traditional formats.

The latest figures from ComScore Media Metrix show that the efforts of newspaper publishers to attract online traffic may finally be paying off. The most well-​known brands in the newspaper industry have not yet made it into the top 10, but data for July 2011 shows that the New York Time Digital site is getting close with its number 16 rank on the Top 50 List. The site reached 64.9 million unique visitors that month. And Gannett sites had 40.9 million unique visitors and was number 24 on this list, while Tribune Interactive was at number 32 with 34 million visitors.

This is great news for publishers who are watching the continued erosion of print advertising revenue. Publishers reported slightly more print revenue in the second quarter, $5.189 billion, than in the first quarter, $4.75 billion, this year. But the second quarter numbers still reflected a 8.88% drop from last year. These figures also represent a 50% drop in a 5‑year period. So far this year, print ad revenue figures look like this:

  • National $1,909.50 (billion)
  • Retail $5,633.18
  • Classified $2,395.93

The online portion of ad revenue, at $803.4 million, represents an 8% increase over last year. For the second quarter, online ad revenue comprised 13.4% of the total for the industry. Five years ago, that figure was 7.6%.

Publishers likely won’t achieve huge gains in the third quarter which is traditionally the slowest season for this industry, but the fourth quarter is always the busiest both for print and online revenue. Some of the largest categories for national newspaper advertising this year have included Coupon Marketing Organizations, Public Service/​Utilities/​Telecom/​, and Travel/​Transportation. These categories hold the strong potential for online and traditional formats.

[Sources: comScore Media Metrix Top 50 Properties. comScore​.com. 19 Aug. 2011. Web. 12 Sept. 2011; Trends & Numbers Quarterly. Naa​.org. 1 Sept. 2011. Web. 12 Sept. 2011]


Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.