It’s 12 O’Clock—Do You Know Where Your Audience Is?

I recently read a blog post at Social Media Today about sharp declines in magazine advertising and readership. The original article from Media Daily News is available here. The statistics are pretty grim for the publishing world: ad pages in many big titles are down 30-49%. Such venerable publications as Reader’s Digest, Ladies’ Home Journal and Entertainment Weekly have all seen double-digit declines in readership. And Newsweek is doing a relaunch in hopes of surviving. Not to mention the newspapers that are dropping like flies across the country.

I have been noticing the downward trend in advertising over the past two years. As the Media Relations Specialist here at, it’s my job to make sure we have the current ad rates available for our subscribers. I began to notice that the majority of print publications were either not increasing or actually decreasing their display advertising rates.

I’ve also observed this trend by the weight of the magazines that come into our office. Lately, many of the titles are so thin and light that I fear for their survival.

What does this mean for you, the (possibly former) advertisers? Well, for one thing, it means your audience is shrinking. There are fewer prospects reading your ads, which not only limits the reach of your ads but increases your cost per lead. It also means fewer editorial opportunities, as editorial copy is often driven by ads.

One could argue that fewer advertisers means your ad is more likely to stand out. If you want to be a big fish in an ever-shrinking pond, you are certainly entitled to be that. I am not trying to contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom for the print world, but the statistics seem to speak for themselves.

Those statistics also speak to the greater importance of online media. ZenithOptimedia Group's quarterly tracking study on the advertising economy declares: "The Internet is the only medium expected to reap advertising increases during 2009." Even in the midst of a recession.

The study gives specifics about types of online advertising:

"In the U.S. we predict search advertising to grow 9.0% in 2009, while classified grows just 1.8% and traditional display shrinks 1.8%. New formats are enjoying greater growth (29.8% from Internet video and rich media, 29.7% from Internet radio and 11.9% from podcasts), but these represent only 12% of US internet expenditure between them."

This year, the Internet will replace magazines as the third largest advertising medium, behind TV and newspapers. So, you may have thought you knew where to find buyers for your products and services, but many of them have probably migrated to the Internet.

Plan your 2009 advertising and marketing campaigns with that in mind.

Posted by Heath Havlick

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