US Newspaper Ad Revenues Continue to Fall, Down 5% Y-O-Y in Q3

Newspaper advertising revenues in the US continue to decline, posting a year-over-year drop for the 25th consecutive quarter in Q3, per the latest figures from the Newspaper Association of America (NAA). Total print and online revenues were down 5.1% year-over-year to about $5.3 billion. If there’s any bright spot to be found in the results, it’s that this was the smallest decrease since Q4 2010 (-4.67%), and the smallest Q3 drop since Q3 2006 (-1.5%).

In fact, the decline in print revenues (-6.4%) was the least consequential since Q1 2007 (also -6.4%). And while year-over-year growth in online revenues (3.6%) was below levels from last year, it was still the fastest rate of this year.

Those results might be why newspaper executives sustain some optimism. According to a University of Missouri survey of US daily newspaper publishers, released in October, almost two-thirds are optimistic about the future, compared to just 4% who are not. 9 in 10 feel that their digital news publication revenues will increase over the next year.

Similarly, an earlier Newspaper Association Managers survey of 386 daily and weekly newspaper executives from all 50 US states and Canada (reported by Editor & Publisher) found that while advertising revenues are a leading concern, one-quarter believe newspapers will become more relevant to consumers over the next 5 years, and an additional half see no change in their future relevance.

National Ad Sales Still Falling

Meanwhile, further details from the NAA release indicate that the Q3 decline in print newspaper ad expenditures was again most pronounced in national ad sales, which dropped by about 10.4% year-over-year to $738.1 million. Classifieds revenues fell 4.8% year-over-year to $1.14 billion, though that was a much smaller drop than the 8.4% year-over-year decline from Q2. Retail spending, which represents the lion’s share of expenditures, declined by 6%, to $2.6 billion.

Within the retail category, the computers/electronics, home supplies/furniture, and general merchandise verticals, which represent 12.9%, 14.5%, and 25.9% share of retail spending, respectively, were the only to buck the downward trend, with ad dollars rising in each. Coupon marketing organizations increased their national ad spend from $198.1 million in Q3 2011 to $221 million in Q3 2012, accounting for 30% share of national ad sales in Q3 2012.