Digital vs. Print Advertising: Tipping Point Update

Screenshot of NY Times Facebook page.

Screenshot of NY Times Facebook page.

My recent blog post on revenue from digital advertising vs. print at The New York Times touched on something that obviously is being discussed in the corner offices of the world’s leading newspaper.

Based on recent financial results, I projected that the Times’ digital ad revenue would surpass print revenue in about five years.

Now, a leading Times executive agrees.

In a recent report, the chief executive of The New York Times company agreed with that tipping point. “I think five years is feasible to reach that tipping point,” said Mark Thompson, given the rate of digital growth and the prospects for accelerating it.

Now that I’m done patting myself on the back, I’ll point out some other interesting nuggets about the Times, based on the report. Given its stature and its digital-first mentality, it should be regarded as a bellwether for the entire newspaper industry.

  • The international audience is the richest target for digital-subscription growth. The numbers: 18 months ago, about 10 percent of the Times’s digital subscriptions were international; now they are 13 percent of a larger total. Conclusion: Expect to see more world news in the Times. It has always been their strength, anyway.
  • The Times still thinks that it’s news that sells newspapers, even the digital version. The money spent on journalism — about $300 million a year, up 50 percent since 2008 — is worth it. “The most precious thing we have is the quality of the news report and the range of opinion,” Thompson said. Despite buyouts last year, the news staff remains the same size, around 1,300, because of hiring in such areas as audience development (also known as reader analytics).

— What’s your take on newspapers in the digital age, and The New York Times in particular? Leave a comment below.



About Steve Burns

I live in the Atlanta area. I also lived for many years in Southern California. I'm into mainstream media, social media, sports, business and politics. I worked for AOL's Patch, but this is my personal blog. I'm on Twitter (@bsteve76), Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. See ya 'round!
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