Newspaper Advertising Revenue Drops Like a Rock

Advertising revenue for newspapers, adjusted for inflation, has dropped to 1950s levels. After rising for over 50 years, newspaper ad revenue dropped radically in 2003 and then for good in about 2005. Online classifieds and blogs put the nail in its coffin. Online communities that people can join became more interesting and were free. Craigslist,, eBay, and other websites that replaced traditional classified ads stole huge ad dollars from newspapers. Paul Gillin, our partner for our seminar series, started Newspaper Death Watch to chronicle the demise of newspapers. Newsweek magazine published its last print edition in December 2012, and is launching an all-digital format in 2013. The venerable Encyclopaedia Britannica also announced in 2012 that it would cease print publication.

Suffice it to say the news business is in a big transition. The dust hasn’t settled yet by any means, but from a PR perspective, companies need to understand that the old yardstick of counting column inches of coverage is not so relevant—you want your news online.

Below are the top 15 most popular news sites from eBizMBA in October 2012, with their estimated unique monthly visitors:

1.         Yahoo! News | 110,000,000

2.         CNN | 74,000,000

3.         MSNBC | 73,000,000

4.         Google News | 65,000,000

5.         New York Times | 59,500,000

6.         HuffingtonPost | 54,000,000

7.         Fox News | 32,000,000

8.         Washington Post | 25,000,000

9.         LATimes | 24,900,000

10.       Mail Online | 24,800,000

11.       Reuters | 24,000,000

12.       ABCNews | 20,000,000

13.       USA Today | 18,000,000

14.       BBC News | 17,000,000

15.       Drudge Report | 14,000,000

Newspaper losses open a door for those willing to adapt. Newspapers and other print media are gunning it with online editions. If you have a real content marketing plan and a trending story to tell, you can ride the new wave. Rather than spending so much in print ads and in traditional PR, website owners must nurture relationships with reporters, editors, and publishers through blogs and other social media. TV and print ad revenues have seen significant declines, though some niche magazines and local cable are doing reasonably well despite cutbacks. We live in a brave new world and an ever-shifting landscape.

Do you still read newspapers?

photo credit: Locator via photopin cc

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