Newspapers: Making up for lost ad dollars
Print advertising continued its decline in 2013
April 21, 2014
The idea behind digital paywalls for newspapers is to help offset some of the steep declines in print advertising that have been seen over the past eight years.
While paywalls aren’t making up for all of the declines, they’re starting to balance out a small portion of them.
Print ad spending fell 6.5 percent during 2013, according to numbers released Friday by the Newspaper Association of America, to $23.57 billion.
But circulation revenue, sparked by the widespread adoption of paywalls, was up 3.7 percent, to $10.87 billion.
It was the second straight year of growth for circulation revenue, which had been falling before that as people discontinue their print subscriptions.
Digital-only subscriptions grew by 47 percent in 2013, while bundled print and digital subscriptions soared 108 percent, driving the increase in the circulation category.
More than a third of all dailies in the U.S., 500 of 1,400, now have paywalls.
Analysts have long said that digital subscriptions won’t be able to balance out the print subscription declines, and so far that is true.
But paywalls are easing some of the hurt for newspapers, as are other digital additions providing a new source of revenue for papers, which sorely need it.
Digital advertising, for instance, was up 1.5 percent in 2013, to $3.42 billion, accounting for 19 percent of all newspaper advertising.
Mobile revenue saw huge gains, though it still represents only 1 percent of all newspaper advertising, up 77 percent.
And digital agency and marketing services, a relatively new category for newspapers, jumped by 43 percent, albeit from a small base. This includes using newspaper resources to set up social media accounts or run web sites for local businesses.
Newspapers will continue to dip into these alternative revenue sources to make up for the decline in print advertising.
Over the past 10 years, print advertising has fallen by half, according to NAA data, and it has not seen a year-to-year increase since 2005.
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