An untimely flat-lining of digital ad revenue

While print advertising has seen a precipitous fall (see previous post), perhaps the news of most immediate concern is that online revenue growth slowed to a near standstill in the first quarter of 2012, according to new numbers from the National Newspaper Association.

Online ad revenue for newspapers went up just 1% in the first quarter, the fifth straight quarterly slowdown in digital growth. It was growing by as much as 10.6% in the first quarter of last year, for example, but was down to 3% by the last three months of the year.

Now it’s barely growing at all.

Meanwhile, newspaper print advertising continued its steep decline, down 8.2% in the first quarter of 2012 — almost exactly matching the percentage drop for all of last year.

All this reminds us why we’re seeing further budget cuts and dramatic changes in some companies, such as Advance Publications’ moves in New Orleans and Alabama, and why we’re bound to see more.

“Darkness (is) visible for newspapers: digital ad growth stalls,” NYU prof Jay Rosen tweeted today. “They’re down in an up market, and that cannot be afforded.”

For more analysis of the trends, check out this Reuters report.


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