Digital advertising, once touted as the savior of newspaper publishing, is proving to be yet another drag for many companies’ bottom lines.
The New York Times Co. announced that its digital ad revenues slipped again in the second quarter of the year, marking two consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines.
NYTCO reported that total digital ad revenues sank 6.8% to $45 million in the second quarter, which president and CEO Mark Thompson attributed to a drop in traditional Web display advertising, canceling out growth in newer digital ad categories including mobile and video.
The digital decline compounded print losses, down 14.1%, for a total ad revenue decline of 11.7%, to $131.2 million.
The ad declines were partially offset by continued growth in circulation revenues, due mainly to the success of NYTCO’s digital subscription strategy, with total circ revenues up 3% to $219.5 million.
The drop in digital ad revenues in the second quarter is especially troubling because it follows a 1.3% decline in the first quarter, to $41.8 million.
While NYTCO has experienced quarterly declines in digital ad revenues before, they have rarely occurred in two consecutive quarters in a row, and have generally alternated with periods of strong growth.
For example, last year its total digital ad revenues were up 8.2% to $197.1 million, due to increases of 10.7% in the first quarter, 14.2% in the second quarter, and 10.6% in the fourth quarter, more than offsetting a 5% drop in the third quarter.
Earlier this week, Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper publisher, reported that its national digital ad revenues were up 22.4%, or 18.5% when recently acquired businesses are excluded.