All of the hand-wringing over the Internet’s impact on the newspaper industry over the last decade ignores the truth that newspaper readership and revenues have been in a steady decline since the 1960s. Back then, it was television that was to blame for the closing of newspapers. When the Internet happened in the mid-90s, it only accelerated the decline.
Newspapers were slow to adapt, but now nearly all have vibrant, aggressive Web sites. And there are signs that local Web ad revenues are beginning to replace the losses in print. Nowhere is that more important than in New Jersey, with its rich tradition of dozens of local daily and weekly newspapers. And it even creates opportunities for your business to advertise.
Newspaper readership, as measured by circulation, was stagnant for 30 years before the Internet became a commercial medium. According to the Newspaper Association of America (www.naa.org), daily paid newspaper circulation in the U.S. broke the 60 million mark in 1964. And it stayed right there, with minor annual fluctuations, until 1992 – two years before the Web emerged. Since then, it’s declined about 13 percent. But it had stopped matching population growth long before the Internet.
The last decade has seen newspapers embrace the Web to the extent that 2008 finds U.S. newspaper Web sites reach more than 65 million unique visitors each month. (Nielsen Online, as reported by the NAA.) And newspaper Web sites generated more than $3 billion in advertising revenue in 2007, an increase of more than 18 percent over 2006. Total print ad revenues for the same year were $42 billion, but that number represented a 9 percent loss against the previous year. (NAA)
And according to a recent study by Borrell Associates, the revenues of “local” newspaper Web sites (excluding national newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today) are expected to reach $3.7 billion in 2008.
An initiative by the New Jersey Press Associations (NJPA) is indicative of the importance of Web advertising growth to local newspapers throughout the country. NJPA has organized the New Jersey Newspaper Network (NJNN) as the one-stop place to shop for online advertising for the state’s close to 40 newspaper Web sites. NJNN can price and serve the ads to the Web sites of your choice in one simple purchase. Of course, NJNN will also help you with online-print combinations if you are interested, too.