Online Newspaper Ad Decline Gets Steeper in Q1

Online newspaper ad revenues dropped again in the first quarter of this year. The decline is getting steeper, falling at a faster rate than last quarter.

Total newspaper site revenues came in at $696.3 million, down from $804 million in Q1 ’08, according to the Newspaper Association of America. Online ad dollars have fallen so rapidly that industry insiders have revisited discussions of implementing subscription models in the hopes of counteracting the print and online ad decline.

Online paper ad dollars dwindled more than 13 percent compared to the same quarter 2008. And they’re falling at a quicker clip than in Q4 2008, another miserable quarter when newspaper Web ad revenues dropped more than 8 percent. The NAA pegged online newspaper ad revenues at $778 million in Q4 ’08.

All together, paper publishers brought in $6.6 billion in combined print and Web advertising revenue, plummeting more than 28 percent from Q1 2008 when print and online ad dollars totaled $9.2 billion.

Online ad revenues fell for the first time ever in the second quarter of 2008, dropping 2.4 percent to $776.6 million.

Newspaper industry execs reportedly met discreetly last month to hash out ideas for revenue-generation, including subscription-based models. It is believed the industry is considering a collective move in which many papers would charge for some content, though such a move could be subject to antitrust-related inspection.

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