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2008 Print Ad Revenues Quantified, Tally is Bad

newspaper revenue numbersYou don’t need a crystal ball or a keen sense of current events to know the newspaper business is a mess.  Regular bankruptcy and layoff headlines, or even just the reduced quality of many local papers (which are relying on less original reporting, fewer pages etc), make it immediately apparent to even the most passive watcher.  But now there’s even more evidence: new numbers from the Newspaper Association of America out yesterday.

2007 had been the market’s worst year, that is… until 2008 wrapped up.  

According to the NAA’s figures, total ad revenues dropped off another 16.6% to $37.8b for the 2008 year.     The print segment was off 17.7% to $34.7b while online revenue, a bright spot in the past four years, slipped 1.7% to $3.1b.

Overall it was the third consecutive year of declines, a first since the NAA began tracking the revenue stream in 1950.

Within categories, by the numbers:

• Classified ad revenue, which has fallen off precipitously as listing continue their migration online,  plunged 29.7 % to $9.97b in 2008.   

• Help wanted ads were decimated with a 42.5% drop to $1.6b.

•Automotive and real estate listings were off 29.1% and 37.8% respectively.

•Retail ads sunk 14.9% to $2.2b.

Alan Mutter, a one-time newspaper columnist, editor and CEO turned investor, who writes about the space notes in his analysis of the data that the industry has lost $11.6b in sales since 2005.  As he put it “23.2% of its revenue base was vaporized in just three years.”

2009, so far, doesn’t show any signs of the trends reversing.

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