American newspaper publishers are losing $7 in print advertising for every each dollar they are gaining in new digital revenue, according to an analysis of financial data of 38 newspapers from 13 publishing companies released this morning by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
The report, which also senior executives from those companies about their search for new revenue models, says they are finally showing signs of a "path forward."
“The study suggests that the future of newspapers, rather than being determined entirely by sweeping external trends, can be substantially affected by company culture and management -- even at papers of quite different sizes,” noted PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel.
Among the study’s key findings:
* Papers studied are losing seven dollars in print advertising for every one dollar they are gaining in new digital revenue. The papers providing detailed data took in roughly $11 in print revenue for every $1 they attracted online in the last full year for which they had data. Thus, even though the total digital advertising revenues from those newspapers rose on average 19% in the last full year, that did not come anywhere close to making up for the dollars lost as a result of 9% declines in print advertising.
* Only 40% of papers say targeted advertising is a major part of their sales efforts. Most papers are not putting major effort into selling “smart” or customized digital ads, the category expected to soon dominate local advertising.