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Gannett report suggests newspaper industry will lose more than $1 billion in advertising this year

October 22, 2013

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By the third quarter, the revenue picture for the newspaper industry is pretty well set. Now that the Newspaper Association of America has stopped compiling quarterly results, we need to look to public company reports for a proxy. And Gannett, which owns 81 community newspapers and USA Today, is representative all by itself.

So I will hazard an informed guess that Gannett’s earnings report Monday,which showed advertising losses of 5.3 percent so far this year, indicates that the industry will again lose more than $1 billion in advertising year-to-year in 2013.

Here is the math: NAA calculated total advertising in 2012 at $22.3 billion as traditionally counted and $25.3 billion including non-dailies and other new ad related activities. A 5.3 percent decline on just the traditional portion would amount to $1.18 billion less in 2013. By comparison, 2012 was down $1.6 billion compared to 2011.

That adds up to yet another disappointing year. Total ads are falling at a slightly lower rate (5.3 percent compared to 2012′s 6.8 percent). Digital ads will be up again but not nearly enough to cover the print losses.

That’s what is known euphemistically in the industry as “sequential improvement,” a phrase Gannett CEO Gracia Martore used in yesterday’s conference call with analysts. In other words, business is still declining but not as fast as it was.

For newspapers and their newsrooms, the third quarter results and 2014 planning coincide, and the clear trend is to at least another year of making do with less. Read more at Poynter.

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