Newspaper And Magazine Brands Are Being Squeezed Out By The Duopoly

One of the aspects of yesterday's ad expenditure forecast from Group M that did not get a lot of attention was what lay behind the digital success story. Growth is slowing down this year compared to last, and then again next year, to around 4%.

That gave rise to talk about a slowdown and the potential implication of Brexit. However, it took until today's examination of the figures by Press Gazette to reveal a rather horrific, inconvenient truth.

For the first time, newspaper and magazines' share of overall ad spending will fall into single-digit territory. Having secured around 17% of all ad expenditure in 2017, the sector will dip to just above 9% this year.

Further declines are forecast in the next few years, but only in the single-digit range, in terms of overall ad income, which is an improvement over recent double-digit declines.

For the record, tv and radio are due to remain largely unaffected, while -- you guessed it -- digital enjoys the vast majority of new investment in advertising.

This year, digital advertising will make up around 60% of all ad spend in the UK, to be worth around GBP13.5bn. The duopoly of Google and Facebook are forecast to gross around three-quarters of this expanded market. 

It's little surprise that this is the case, it has been the direction of travel for a few years now, but the scale at which print is being bashed by digital advertising is quite shocking. In just two years, newspaper and magazines' share of overall UK advertising has nearly halved. 

The researchers behind the figures point out that digital gains are softening the blow of a near collapse in print advertising spending, but anyone who has looked at these figures over the years will know two things. Print losses have amounted to the sector making a new pound for around every five pounds they lose in physical ad sales.

In addition, the situation is only now looking better because percentage-point dips in print are coming from a smaller number and so are looking a little less ominous when compared to digital gains.

There are a couple of rays of light that may help the newspaper and magazine sector. Publishers are beginning to better categorise their content and flag it up as premium at the same time as brands and their agencies are concerned by relevance and brand safety issues of overreliance on a race to the bottom through programmatic trading. 

There is also a growing awareness among publishers they need to better categorise an article's content around what it truly covers and not allow words such as "murder" and "stabbing" to stop advertisers from spending money to be seen on a page that might actually be a highly popular review of a new television series, rather than a gritty report on a true-life crime scene.

There is also the issue of Google and Facebook facing possible investigation and action over how they handle data in a post GDPR digital marketing world. This could encourage spend to go to quality news and magazine titles, but it's another potentially positive development for the sector.

Until adland wakes up to the better quality of content provided by news and magazine publishers, it's hard to see the sector improving. Its trade body, Newsworks, is doing great work on pointing out the greater value of quality articles. What's needed now is for Google and Facebook's targeting to come into question and for brands to push agencies to factor in more highly  the benefits of targeting premium interest-based audiences when drawing up media plans.

There is scope for some improvement but, right now, it has to be said things do not look too encouraging for newspaper and magazine publishers. 

Next story loading loading..