Tuesday, July 09, 2013

By the numbers | Dealing with print ad declines

Even as Gannett pushes deeper into broadcasting, advertising revenue from newspapers and other print publications remains the company's single-biggest revenue source, accounting for 43% of the $1.2 billion in overall revenue during the first quarter. That was down from 45% in the first quarter of last year.

Now, with Corporate set to report second-quarter financial results in less than two weeks, ad revenues across the U.S. Community Publishing division are under pressure like never before. Already, GCI was looking at a possible revenue decline in the current quarter as the company cycles against year-ago numbers that were buoyed by the broadcasting division's stellar results.

The major question this week: How will USCP deal with what I'm told was an unexpectedly disappointing second quarter?

Key figures on print ad revenue over the past five quarters:

in the first quarter from Q1 in 2012

fourth quarter vs. 2011

third quarter vs. 2011


first quarter vs. 2011

[Source: regulatory reports]


  1. It really shouldn’t be a surprise that print revenue is dropping since all of the advertising sales training and hiring for the last several years has been focused on internet sales.
    Sell yahoo, Google, Facebook, web page design, etc. That has been the battle cry and the new hires, even new managers, no nothing about print.
    I guess the plan, if there was a plan, was to have online sales carry the load and that’s not happening.

  2. In an e-mail, a readers told me this morning: Don't be surprised if by day's end today (Tuesday) and definitely by week's end that third-quarter furloughs are announced.

  3. No, but they continue to brag about digital being a bigger amd bigger slice of the ad pie. It might be if the websites, particularly Usa Today,were easier, more reader friendly destinations for readers. Instead, we have a hot, moving mess dictated not by sound news judgement, but by metrics. The site, simply is a huge turnoff for many readers. Who is responsible for this horrible design?

    1. Online revenue is becoming a bigger piece of the pie, not because it’s generating more dollars it’s because the pie is getting smaller.

  4. How did your paper's website do for video views during June? One Wisconsin paper not only missed its June goal but a considerable amount didn't match its May numbers during June. So is video the answer?

    1. Average: 200-300 hits per lame iPhone video.
      Photo galleries get 50X that.
      At least.
      Gannett will never learn, because the stupid lead the blind sheeple in the USCP ICs.
      Our paper is getting killed by the top TV station in the market. Five years ago, it was the other way around. But that was before we cast off all the skilled veterans with institutional knowledge.

    2. 9:18 AM: All sites, non-news included, see declines in online traffic in summer months. Other obvious factors that would lead to slight declines over May: more people on vacation, both in the newsroom producing video and in the audience; fewer days in the month, and in this year, an unusual number of weekend days in June (10 of 30 days).
      Is video the answer? What's the question? Video is an important part of our content and there is no question it has traction with our audience. The year-over-year increases in video views are remarkable.
      9:57 AM: Of course a photo gallery gets significantly more page views. Each photo is a page view within the gallery. But the number of viewers is often equal between a video and gallery. If you have 200 viewers of a video and 10,000 page views on a photo gallery of 50 photos, that's also 200 viewers on the photo gallery (200 x 50 = 10,000).
      I'd be shocked if your newsroom (can we please stop using 'paper'?) is getting killed by the top TV station. By what measure? By what analytics? By what beyond your unsupported opinion?

  5. If you want proof that print is dead to Kramer and Callaway -- as well as journalism as most would know it -- look at this latest missive from Cheers, Dave. Their mission is to murder the paper and make everyone digital drones.


    We’ve made great strides in becoming a more digital operation, and in getting the Gannett Global News Desk launched. But there is more to do. Next week, we’ll kick off a series of training programs designed to bring ALL of our editors and reporters into the mindset of our desktop, tablet and mobile platforms. It will precede a reorganization of work flow across every section this summer to make sure we’re on top of coverage on a 24/7 basis, breaking news or slow news day.

    The first week will be dedicated to the Virginia staff, and the bureaus will be brought on shortly after. Every journalist on staff should plan to be here at Tysons next Monday, July 15, all day. Those on holiday or specifically designated by their supervisors to news coverage that day will be able to catch up after.

    A more detailed agenda will be sent out later this week, but here’s the outline.

    July 15 (Monday) --- Mission and goals from Larry Kramer, Derek Murphy and David Callaway, as well as workflow outlines going forward. 9 am to 11:15.

    • How the work gets done, including case studies of our coverage of specific news events. 2 pm to 5:30 pm.
    • 5:30 pm – Assorted drinking and eating.

    July 16 (Tuesday) – News and politics teams. 9 am to noon.

    • Money/Tech/Auto teams. 2 pm to 5 pm.

    July 17 (Weds) – Life team. 9 am to noon.

    • Travel team. 2 pm to 5 pm.

    July 18 and 19 (Thurs and Fri) – hands on workshops on presto, social, metrics.

    Obviously news will get in the way here, but we’ll do our best to get as many people through these as possible before we make assignment changes. Continued digital training will be available in increments throughout the summer and probably the rest of the year.

    Cheers. Dave

    1. One would think that Kate Marymont, supposedly the top journalism executive in Gannett, would be involved in this. Yet I do not see her name. Hello, Kate?

  6. "Obviously news will get in the way here"
    Oh brother!

    1. News "gets in the way" everyday around here. Sad.

  7. How will USCP handle the decline? Apparently not well, and they're doing everything they can to hasten the decline further. Nothing like publishing a smaller and weaker print product as the weeks go by to attract advertisers. Sure, print is not going to be around forever, but while it's making money, why not at least support it with content that makes it attractive to advertisers and, gasp, readers? My brother is a subscriber to a non-Gannett newspaper in Milwaukee, which is still doing quite an admirable job with both its print and online news. He recently took a trip out West and picked up the local Gannett newspaper in a fairly sizeable market and commented how thin and lacking the newspaper was there. Particularly the sports reporting. A West Coast newspaper that couldn't even be bothered to pick up the East Coast sports scores.

  8. Obliviously, as print revenue declines, digital revenue will be increase proportionately as a piece of an ever smaller pie. Gannett would love to get rid of that pesky newsprint.It is sooo un-sexy. Hey, here's an idea...instead of delivering newspapers each day (old school), deliver only once a tablet for a subscriber to download and read their news. The cost of subscribing covers the cost of the tablet (and news access). Presto, no pesky newsprint. No carriers, no mailroom, no press-room, no circulation department. No recycling unread newspapers for subscribers. It's a win, win.

  9. Heads in the sand all over the place as a mild bump in revenues from circulation and advertising efforts were just a ride on the economy brief boom. Correction in national economy, again, will hurt. Lastly, the digital dollars cannot come fast enough to replace the decline. Since investor have no tolerance for this type of flux, Gannet has two choices: Sell some properties OR cut some bodies.

  10. GPS is getting sick and tired of of all your shnibling get back to work and do your jobs. We continue to do the work that supports this company and keep things afloat. Anyone who may or may not know how to use spell check can create the drivel that USCP local sites create. We print plenty of outside publications that offer a quality product some for free distribution others at a fair price. So enough bickering about print verse digital. If you fail yo do your jobs and your fiduciary duty to the communities you live and work in you will fail. GPS will fail and then there will be no revenue to continue to support your digital part time fantasy.

  11. It is amazing to read this and hear the frustration that our site deals with every day. We have some of theist creative people and great ideas and we push the print! Print sells. Print gives return. Print brings in money and opportunity that dms can not. We have no direction coming from anyone at the wheels of the ship! There is no respect for any of our reps because we go against the demands of "sell digital!!". We lose the good old school reps who use to have to actually role the ads for these people who don't even know what a column inch is. Guess what happens when that rep realizes they can't make any money focusing on digital, they leave ruin relationships because they don't even know the print product. Maybe if some of these managers and decision makers slowed down and actually looked at every option from every angle and actually talked to a rep, they would get more revenue and wouldn't be stuck with this annoying question always asked, how will we hit this number? They should start to LISTEN and leave their egos at the door!

  12. I try to make sense of the decisions that Gannett makes. In my opinion Gannett should have been into DMS Digital 7 years ago. We are so behind the eight ball that the only clients we can approach on these DMS products are small business owners who don't have the budget to pay for these services. I am also perplexed on the timing to take our websites to a paid subscription. They increased Sales Rep's digital goals and at the same time we lost impressions to sell not to mention we had clients that we could not deliver their already contracted campaigns.


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