March 24, 2010 Last Updated 9:30 pm

NAA data confirms that 2009 was a disaster for newspaper ad revenue; a decade of print declines

The Newspaper Association of America produced its final report for 2009 and they show that overall newspaper print revenue fell 28.6 percent over the prior year. Classified revenue continued to fall off the cliff, declining 38.1 percent to $6.179 billion dollars.

In general, newspaper print revenue is now at levels not seen since the early ’80’s, with interactive advertising not able to significantly moderate the declines.

Sometimes a chart is all you need to see for you to understand the story:
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☜  The NAA annual revenue report paints a grim picture for the industry. Chart by TNM.
Click for larger view.



“Last year was certainly a difficult one for newspapers and other advertising-related businesses — a fact that is no surprise to anyone who lived through what many economists have appropriately termed The Great Recession,” wrote John F. Storm, the NAA’s President and CEO.

Online advertising, which the association began tracking in 2003 declined for the second year in a row, though by a somewhat more modest 11.8 percent. It marks the second year in a row, however, that newspaper online advertising has declined following early years of robust growth.

Newspaper revenue has enjoyed steady growth with rarely more than one negative year in a decade.  The nineties started out poorly due to the recession that year, but every year until 2001.  2009, though, was the fourth year in a row that newspaper revenue declined. But it is the pace of that decline that must worry newspaper publishers the most. The modest decline of only 1.7 percent in 2006 increased to 9.4 percent in 2007, and was dwarfed by the 17.7 percent decline in 2008.

Worse, while classified may be the most declining category, national and retail advertising is not performing much better — national declined 26.2 percent last year, and retail advertising declined 24.2 percent.

The NAA’s Sturm tries to be upbeat. “The buzz we have been hearing – that ad trend improvement is continuing into the first quarter, that advertiser demand has been firming as the economy stabilizes and that publishers are feeling more confident as they look ahead into 2010 – is definitely encouraging,” Sturm wrote on the association’s web site.

The report can be viewed, and a spreadsheet downloaded from the NAA web site.

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