NAA: Newspapers’ Ad Declines Slim, As Online Struggles To Maintain Growth

Compared to the past three years, newspapers in Q3 had its first positive — or perhaps, “less worse” is more accurate — ad revenue news in quite awhile. The latest figures from the Newspaper Association of America shows that total print and online revenues fell by 5.39 percent in the previous quarter, a slight improvement over the 5.55 percent drop in Q2. To put it in further context, this was the smallest drop the industry has reported since Q107, when total print and online ad dollars slipped 4.8 percent. Online meanwhile was up in double digits, but not as high as in Q2.

Still, by itself, online ad revenues grew 10.7 percent in Q3, which not as strong as the 13.9 percent in Q2. Even print saw some improvement in Q3, falling 7.11 percent in Q3 compared to 7.62 percent in Q2.

In a statement, NAA President and CEO John Sturm noted newspapers drew more than 11 percent of their Q3 revenues from their websites, which happened to attract nearly two-thirds of all adult Internet users in October – more than 105.2 million unique visitors

The quarterly numbers, including the entire modern history of newspaper ad revenues, is here.

As newspaper earnings this past quarter showed, the industry has benefitted from the wider advertising recovery. However, newspapers have not done as well as attracting advertisers as the broadcast and magazine businesses have, as those segments have seen a much healthier return to positive ad revenues. One of the problems that still plagues newspapers is the difficulty in separating print and online “upsells,” which tends to dilute spending for both as marketers mostly divide their budgets among the two sides. Companies like Gannett (NYSE: GCI) are pursuing more mobile ad revenues, including selling out inventory on flagship paper USA Today’s free iPad app. Others, like the NYT are looking to paid models to supplement diminished ad revenues.