So far this year, interactive revenue at Tribune, which publishes a host of papers--including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune--increased 28 percent, FitzSimons said. What's more, he said, while interactive revenue is poised to grow this year to $225 million--or about 6 percent of the company's publishing revenue--the company is looking to more than double that figure within four years. "We look to increase to ... approximately 12 percent to 15 percent of publishing revenues in 2010," he said.
Online advertising executives at the conference also were bullish about the prospects for newspapers' digital revenues. James Warner, executive vice president at Avenue A/Razorfish, said that online news ads show the prospect of "growth as far as the eye can see."
Shawn Riegsecker--CEO of Centro, a Chicago-based media buying firm--added that much of that growth will be driven by the entry of major brand advertisers to online advertising via newspapers. "We're seeing brand advertisers who have stayed away from online," he said. "Brand advertisers are coming, and they're going to push out some of the pay-per-performance marketers."
Riegsecker said that the biggest advantage that newspapers have online over their competitors, like portal sites, is a large store of quality content that advertisers are eager to be placed alongside. "The number one thing that newspapers have is that a newspaper throws away more content in a day than Yahoo makes in a year," he said.
Earlier this month, the NAA stated that online ad revenue at newspapers grew to $613 million in the first quarter--representing a 34.9 percent jump from the first quarter of last year. The online increase marked the eighth consecutive quarter of growth, according to the organization. Last year, online ad revenue totaled $2.027, marking a growth of 31.48 percent from 2004.