Newspapers losing online ad growth plus selling the Gray Lady
A couple of articles in today's free section of the Wall Street Journal are worth reading if you follow the (mis)fortunes of newspapers.
The first is by Donald E. Graham, CEO of Washington Post arguing against shareholders trying to dismantle the New York Times's two-tier stock structure, used by other newspapers and also by Google.
Why? Because if the stock structure were eliminated, a line of buyers eager to purchase the company would form within minutes. No one could say no. The line would include private equity firms, high-ego billionaires, international media companies lacking a famous property and lots more.
The other article is about growth in online advertising for newspaper site is slowing as advertisers seek other types of sites.
New York Times Co. warned Thursday that online advertising growth this year won't be as strong as the 30% it had projected. On the same day, Tribune Co. reported that the growth rate for first-quarter interactive revenue was sharply lower than a year earlier. Gannett Co. likewise said online revenue growth slowed in the first quarter from a year earlier.
Both are worth reading. I was encouraged that my long held position, that search marketing is to blame for newspaper woes is being recognized more widely.
Quite simply, it is more effective to sell products and services next to a search box than next to a column of journalism. I sometimes use the example: You can sell shampoo next to a search box but not next to a news story about beheadings in Iraq.
Underlining this pressure is a shift under way within Internet advertising. The ad formats that have so far proved strongest for newspapers -- banner ads, pop-ups and listings -- are losing ground to formats such as search marketing. Ad buyers say automotive, entertainment, financial-services and travel companies -- all major newspaper advertisers in print and online -- are aggressively shifting dollars into search marketing.
"There is a dramatic shift going on," says Eric Bader, senior vice president, director of digital connections at Publicis Groupe's MediaVest. Marketers like search advertising because it leads customers to exactly what they are looking for, and is easy to measure, he says.