Commentary

Newspaper Ad Spending Surges, While Magazines Lag

Media spending continues to bounce back as the U.S. economy reopens, though publishers are seeing uneven results, according to Standard Media Index. The data and analytics firm last week said the U.S. advertising market expanded by 39% in June from a year earlier.

That increase was slower than the 58% gain for May and 55% for April, but the comparisons were against the worst part of the COVID-19 recession last year.

Newspapers are participating in that recovery, with ad spending that accelerated to a 60% jump in June from an 8% gain in May. That yearly growth rate is unlikely to be maintained, considering the months ahead will have a higher hurdle to clear. Still, it will be interesting to see how those gains may be reflected in the earnings reports of publicly traded newspaper publishers such as Gannett and The New York Times.
Magazine spending slipped 3% from a year earlier in June, but that was much improved from the 20% declines in both April and May. Print titles are likely to face pressure consistent with the longer-term shift to digital publishing.
Digital ad spending jumped 60% in June and 71% in May. That growth should be positive for digital publications, even if internet search and social media likely captured most of the rebound.
While digital spending was strong, it is losing momentum in comparisons with last year, when many consumers were stuck at home. As people resume former activities — commuting to work, traveling by plane or going to the movies — media spending is likely to shift again.
These changes were reflected in ad spending, with out-of-home surging 52% from a year earlier in June and radio rising by 44%.
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