Newspapers See More Web Ad Spending, But Focus Is Still on Print

Web newspaper ad expenditures in Q2 ’06 were up by nearly one third over Q2 of last year, the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) reported yesterday. Whether the intensifying ray of online sunshine can overpower the paper industry’s graying print cloud, however, remains to be seen. Print ad dollars, which far outweigh online ad revenues, were down compared to Q2 2005, with national advertiser print spending down.

“The motherlode is still print, and the business is still very focused on making sure that we find ways to make that grow,” asserted NAA Chief Marketing Officer John Kimball. “I don’t know of any newspaper that is saying the future is [only] online and that’s where we’re going to put all our effort.”

Online ad dollars rose to $667 million in Q2, a leap of 33.2 percent over the same quarter of last year, the NAA estimated. The trade group’s measurements show Web ad spending has increased at least 23.4 percent each quarter since 2004.

Web and print numbers combined reflect the significance of print ad expenditures on the industry’s bottom line. Print ad spending fell 0.2 from Q2 of last year, to $11.7 billion. Total Q2 online and print ad spending, at $12.4 billion, rose 1.1 percent in Q2 ’06 over Q2 ’05.

“It’s too early to be asking online revenue to pick up any softness in the print side,” contended Kimball. “[Online newspaper advertising] is growing incredibly fast… and I think that in time we may see it be a much more robust part of the revenue stream.”

Although retail ad dollars crept up 1 percent to $5.6 billion and classified monies remained stable at $4.1 billion, national ad expenditures shrank by 3.8 percent, accounting for a hair under $2 billion. Newspaper publishers are making efforts to woo national advertisers to their Web sites. The NAA’s Marketing Advisory Committee is reviewing ad management technologies for what it hopes to be the kind of large online newspaper network that could rival big ad network players like Advertising.com and ValueClick.

Newspaper brands typically continue to hold strong presences in their local regions. Still, some sources interviewed by ClickZ News for previous stories regarding online newspaper advertising believe the dominance of ad networks and portals like AOL, MSN and Yahoo on the Web has compelled local newspaper publishers to compete with national publisher brands and national sales forces.

According to the NAA’s print classified ads breakdown, real estate ads jumped 18.5 percent to $1.2 billion. Yet, recruitment ads dropped 6.5 percent to $1.2 billion, and auto classifieds were down 14.5 percent to $937 million. Remaining classified categories rose 7.9 percent to $729 million.

In early August, the NAA revealed a spike in newspaper site visitors by nearly one third during the second quarter of this year, compared to Q2 2005. According to that NAA study, conducted by Nielsen//NetRatings, an average of almost 55 million users per month visited newspaper Web sites in Q2 of this year, compared to the 42.5 million who did so during the same time period last year.

The NAA represents 2,000 daily and weekly U.S. and Canadian newspapers.

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