Carpe Diem

Free-fall: Adjusted for inflation, print newspaper advertising will be lower this year than in 1950


The blue line in the chart above displays total annual print newspaper advertising revenue (for the categories national, retail and classified) based on actual annual data from 1950 to 2011, and estimated annual revenue for 2012 using quarterly data through the second quarter of this year, from the Newspaper Association of America (NAA).  The advertising revenues have been adjusted for inflation, and appear in the chart as millions of constant 2012 dollars.  Estimated print advertising revenues of $19.0 billion in 2012 will be the lowest annual amount spent on print newspaper advertising since the NAA started tracking ad revenue in 1950.   

The decline in print newspaper advertising to a 62-year low is amazing by itself, but the sharp decline in recent years is pretty stunning.  This year’s ad revenues of $19 billion will be less than half of the $46 billion spent just five years ago in 2007, and a little more than one-third of the $56.5 billion spent in 2004.

Here’s another perspective: It took 50 years to go from about $20 billion in annual newspaper print ad revenue in 1950 (adjusted for inflation) to $63.5 billion in 2000, and then only 12 years to go from $63.5 billion back to less than $20 billion in 2012.

Even when online advertising is added to the print ads (see red line in chart), the combined total spending for print and online advertising this year will still only be about $22.4 billion, less than  the $22.47 billion spent on print advertising in 1953.

Economic Lesson: It’s another one of those huge Schumpeterian gales of creative destruction.

3 thoughts on “Free-fall: Adjusted for inflation, print newspaper advertising will be lower this year than in 1950

  1. I don’t think this is a Schumpeterian gale of creative destruction, but rather a Antiquarian storm of uncreative, stubborn perception of the world who would still buy what a newspaper organization had to offer had they come up with some better ideas before it was too late – after all they’re the smartest people in the room, aren’t they? How could they be so dumb, short sighted, and arrogant?

    • MsInformed@ Craigslist certainly impacted used car sales and small houseold stuff and apartment rentals fro sure. But the housing collapse, recession (not too many help wanted ads) and the deregulation of the travel industry was a much greater impact. Notice, these are all classified-type ads, our local paper is still over stuffed with display ads but the news hole has shrunk dramatically and the actual prices paid (with ‘special deals’ and packaged programs) have dropped dramatically. Online will NEVER make up the shortfall.

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