As newspaper publishers hustle to figure out how to charge for their editorial content, online advertisers are jumping ship.
That's evident by first-quarter advertising numbers released by the Newspaper Assn. of America and the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
The NAA reports online advertising for the first-quarter dropped 13.4 percent to $696M. That's almost triple the drop recorded by the IAB. The IAB reports online ads were down five percent to $5.5B for its 375 media and technology companies. It dismisses the drop as "slight."
CEO Randy Rothenberg says the slippage shows the online world isnít immune to broader economic trends. Heís confident growth will resume once the economy picks up. This blogger hopes that upturn will benefit newspapers as well.
There is a slight consolation for the NAA: the online rate of decline was far less than the sharp drop in print ad revenues. Print revenues plunged 29.7 percent to $5.9B.
Print and online advertising decreased 28.3 percent to $6.6B for the quarter. Classified ads fell off the cliff, down 42.3 percent to $1.5B. The dreary first-quarter performance follows a wretched 2008 in which total ad revenues fell 16.6 percent to $37.8B.
Newspaper publishers better get their acts together on the charge-for-content front real fast. Micropayments? Subscription? Metered Reading? Anything, just try something.
It's far too early to turn out the lights on the newspaper business, but as Yogi Berra once said: "It gets late real early out there."