Adjusted for inflation, the US newspaper industry is now generating roughly the same level of print ad revenue as it was in the 1950s.
The main difference is that back then they were on an upwards trajectory which lasted until the year 2000, when US newspapers’ ad revenue reached $60bn.
Since then, the mass adoption of the internet has seen digital advertising increasingly eat into print ad revenue. You’d be forgiven for thinking that advertising on newspapers’ websites would form a significant part of the overall digital ad spend, what with their high-quality content, pre-existing relationships with agencies and brands, and their well-established audience.
Yet only a small fraction of digital ad spend is going to newspaper publishers’ digital sites and despite US newspapers’ print ad sales more than halving to $19.5bn in 2012 since 2000, according to the Newspaper Association of America, their digital ad sales have only reached $3.4bn.
Part of the problem is that ads on newspaper sites just aren’t as effective as those of the world’s best known sites, like Facebook, Google and Twitter.
While many newspapers’ digital sites are still running standard ad formats, or worse, ads which annoy the consumer and intrude on their content browsing experience, many social media sites have instead deployed native formats, which sit within the digital content, and match the look and feel of the site.