Total US newspaper advertising expenditures fell 7.3% year-over-year in 2011 from $25.84 to $23.94 billion, reports the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) in a March 2012 release. Online ad revenues grew 6.8% from $3.04 billion to $3.25 billion, but were not nearly enough to offset the 9.2% decline experienced by print revenues, from $22.8 billion to $20.7 billion. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center study involving 38 newspapers found that for every dollar gained in digital revenue, $7 are lost in print revenue.
Total expenditures have now fallen for 6 consecutive years. Without adjusting for inflation, 2011 represented the lowest level of advertising expenditures since 1984.
The NAA report shows heavier losses for newspaper ad spending than a recent Kantar Media report, which estimated a 3.7% year-over-year decline for newspaper media revenues in 2011.
Print Revenues Halve in 5 Years
Print revenues have now halved (in absolute dollars) since 2006, according to NAA figures. After a period of mild growth from 2003-2005, expenditures hit their peak at $47.41 billion, before beginning their precipitous fall. After dropping 9.4% in 2007, they stood at $42.21 billion. The next 2 years saw declines of 17.7% and 28.6%, followed by an 8.2% decrease in 2010 and a 9.2% drop in 2011, to $20.69 billion.
Online Growth Slows
Online expenditures have been even more turbulent. After year-over-year growth of between 18.8% and 31.4% from 2004 through 2007, spending declined in 2008 and 2009 before posting solid 10.9% growth in 2010. Last year, although growth continued, it was more muted, at 6.8%. Overall, online advertising expenditures have risen from $1.22 billion in 2003, when they were first tracked by the NAA, to $3.25 billion in 2011.
National, Classified Categories Decline Most
National advertising dropped 10.5% for the year, to $3.78 billion, while the classifieds category fell 11% to $5.03 billion. The retail category, which represents the majority of expenditures, fell by a comparatively smaller 8%, down from $12.93 billion to $11.88 billion.
Within the retail category, the general merchandise vertical, which made up 24.58% share of expenditures, saw a year-over-year decline of 16.5%. The financial sector, which held 18.45% share of expenditures, fell by a more modest 2.86%. Within the national category, coupon marketing organizations, which accounted for 23.3% share, saw a drop in expenditures of 14.4%.