Mass Media Lags In 2011; Only OOH Ads Grow

Collage-TV-Radio-NewspapersWith third-quarter results in from trade organizations representing traditional media, it’s clear that newspapers, magazines and radio are not enjoying much of a recovery in 2011, which has seen continued declines for newspaper and magazine publishers and stagnation for radio. Only out-of-home advertising is seeing growth outpacing the advertising business overall.

Newspapers took it on the chin again in the third quarter, with total ad revenues dropping 8.9% from $6.1 billion in 2010 to $5.56 billion in 2011. For the year-to-date, total newspaper ad revenues of $17.1 billion are down 7.6% from $18.5 billion in the first three quarters of 2011, according to the Newspaper Association of America.



The third-quarter figures represent 21 straight quarters of year-over-year declines, with all major categories -- national, retail and classifieds -- showing drops. Digital ad revenues, which are the one bright spot on the balance sheet, are experiencing modest single-digit growth and remain a fairly small part of overall newspaper ad revenues -- just 13.2% of total ad revenues in the third quarter, at $732.5 million.

The situation isn’t quite as bad for magazines, but the newspaper industry’s print cousin is not exactly thriving. Total magazine ad pages fell 5.6% from 41,505 in the third quarter of 2010 to 39,175 in the third quarter of 2011, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

This followed two quarters of basically flat growth. For the year-to-date, total ad pages through September were down 1.2% from 122,130 to 120,719. Although the PIB doesn’t track digital ad revenues, these appear to remain a relatively small part of the business for most publishers.

Radio advertising is faring better than newspapers and magazines, but growth has been very modest in 2011. Total revenues increased 2% in the third quarter of 2011 to $4.53 billion, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau. For the year-to-date through September, total revenues are also up 2% to $12.9 billion; that’s down 20.5% from peak ad revenues of $16.22 billion in the first three quarters of 2007.

Like newspapers and magazines, digital revenues are still just a small part of the overall radio ad business -- coming to $190 million in the third quarter, or 4.2% of total ad revenues.  

Outdoor advertising, on the other hand, has had a fairly successful 2011 so far. Out-of-home advertising revenues continued to grow in the third quarter of 2011, according to the latest figures from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. Total revenues increased 4.2% from $1.44 billion in the third quarter of 2010 to $1.5 billion in the third quarter of this year. In the first nine months of this year, total outdoor ad revenues are up 4.3% to $4.8 billion.

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