Why would anyone invest in something that's on its way out? All forms of legacy media, especially newspapers, have taken a verbal beating in recent months, but the numbers don't lie.
Ad spend is growing to a greater degree than was predicted just a few years ago. The economy is steadily improving month over month and year over year. Perhaps most important of all, people still crave information and rely on reputable news media publishers to provide it.
Don't let snappy memes and witty tweets get you down. Here are three reasons the news media is just fine and only getting better.
#1: Succès de Scandale: There's No Such Thing as Bad Publicity
The old saying about publicity might be an exaggeration, but it has a kernel of truth. Passionate opinions, even negative ones, mean people are talking. For the news media this surge of attention couldn't have come at a better time.
In a 2016 survey by Pew Research Center on journalism and media, only 1 percent of responders said they never pay attention to news. Thirty-eight percent said they get news online, but television still has the greater market share with 57 percent.
News interest isn't waning to a discernible degree, but the way people get news is adjusting to new available technology and different lifestyles at different life stages.
Most people agree that they get at least some news from social media. That sounds like a scandalous talking point, but it's only part of the story. Every successful news outlet has a social presence and social often drives traffic back to the media source.
How do readers find the source?
- Direct using URL or bookmark: 34 percent
- Referrals from other websites, including social media: 66 percent
The chatter about an uninformed public and social overtaking news publishers isn't entirely forthcoming. One can easily get authentic news from a reliable publisher that posts a story on Facebook or Twitter. Social media comments from friends and connections also raise news awareness, encouraging people to seek out the whole story at its source.
#2: Donations and Subscriptions are Up
While pundits and critics claim that some publishers are circling the drain, the fact is that readership is up. Legendary newspapers report a surge in subscriptions and donations are on the rise, as well.
NiemanLab explains that several publishers reported increased interest during the last presidential campaign, and it hasn't yet waned.
- ProPublica: 10 percent increase in donations
- The Atlantic: 160 percent spike in subscriptions
- Mother Jones: donations increased 10X
- Guardian US: 9-25 percent higher sign-ups
- New York Times: 276,000 net quarterly digital subscription growth (Poynter)
Chalk it up to a new presidential administration, fears about freedom of the press restrictions, desire to stamp out fake news or anything else. The upward trend in willingness to pay for news through subscriptions or donations proves a point.
People want information, and the more they want it the more they agree to exchange compensation for the reward of a story. Journalistic integrity sets publishers apart from the wackos, advertisers leave fake sites in droves and reputable publishers are in a prime spot to reap the rewards.
#3: Economic Growth Makes Job Boards a Viable Revenue Stream
News publishers are figuring out the revenue issue. Print newspaper ads still bring in more revenue than digital, but digital's upward momentum is poised to outpace print ads in time. Meanwhile, other revenue streams, such as local job boards, help fill in some of the gaps.
Ad spend statistics and forecasts were all over the place in the past two years. With the disruption of late 2016 and early 2017, some expectations went out the window, but in a good way. Digital ad spend is up and is now projected to grow substantially into 2019, according to Business Insider.
Digital ad spend growth
- 2011: $31.7 billion
- 2015: $59.6 billion
- 2019: projected $93.5 billion
In 2009, PRN Newswire posted a press release by Corzen, Inc. that said job board revenue was growing at a faster rate than print revenue. Corzen CEO, Bruce Murray, explained, ''It's typical for recruitment advertising to pick up during even modest economic recoveries.''
Why is that relevant now? According to the 2017 LinkedIn Workforce Report, hiring is up for the second month in a row, and it's 11.4 percent higher year over year.
It's too early to know for sure, but if the economy does experience healthy growth, hiring should continue to grow and along with it. The volume of candidates looking for a new or better job should follow suit, especially considering how the U.S. Department of Labor arrives at its workforce statistics.
The DoL monthly reports include people who aren't looking for work for many reasons, such as lack of available jobs. More jobs translates to more job ads, and could soon equal more active job candidates entering the market.
Job board revenue is poised to capitalize on recent job growth and a potential influx of job seekers. While print and digital ads duke it out for prominence, a job board could become the newspaper ad revenue sleeper hit.
If the controversy over fake news has taught us anything, it's that people crave information. The majority of people polled by Pew Research admitted to sharing real news stories as well as unwittingly sharing false ones.
The news media really is just fine. For people to lose interest, they'd need to forget about community, social and political issues that affect their lives. Social media news consumption and the recent surge in newspaper subscriptions and donations show that the interest is there, perhaps even stronger than before. Newspapers just have to capture it.
Want to keep your finger on the pulse of the news media and all of the revenue possibilities available?