Borrell: Real Estate Ad Spend On Newspapers To Rise Double Digits; Online Decline Worsens

The real estate market is expected to remain weak for at least another three years, but the category’s ad spending is expected to see a small recovery this year. However, as report from local ad analyst Borrell Associates shows, any uptick in spending will be unevenly spread across specific kinds of media outlets and regions. In particular, newspaper real estate ad spend is projected to rise 16 percent in 2010 after falling a staggering 34 percent last year. At the same time, online real estate ads will fall again to 4 percent, following ’09’s 1 percent drop. In all, real estate ad dollars will be up 3 percent this year, a major reversal from last year’s 20 percent fall-off.

In looking over the real estate landscape, Borrell notes that almost a quarter of homeowners owe more than their house is worth and one in seven mortgages is delinquent. On the commercial side, office vacancy rates are rising by 11 percent while rents are declining 12 percent, and fewer than 10 percent of troubled commercial loans are being resolved. That will continue to place pressure on the category’s ad spending for the next few years.

Focusing on this year, media segments that have generally been perceived as weak — newspapers and broadcasting — are set to do better. Conversely, those that have been otherwise least affected by the economic downturn — cable and online — are poised to do worse. Like newspapers, real estate spending on broadcast TV will surge 39 percent in 2010 after declining 44 percent last year. Cable TV, which has experienced some general ad growth in ’09, will drop 16 percent this year. In 2009, cable TV real estate ad revenue fell just 2 percent.

Part of the reason for the disparity among the major media segments is that local real estate advertisers have been increasing their spending, though they haven’t been able to balance out the continued pullback from national, out-of-market realtors.

In a sense, online real estate advertising’s slight decline also reflects the tidal wave of spending that found its way into the space the last few years. And despite the drop off this year and last, online will continue to be pivotal to real estate ads. And real estate spending will continue to be a major force in interactive ads. As Borrell points out, three of every five online ad dollars are currently spent by real estate agents and brokers. Realtors place the bulk of their spending on