Last fall, news broke that ad-funded digital publishers Buzzfeed and Vice missed their revenue targets, while Mashable was sold for 20% under its 2016 valuation. At the time, it was evidence the digital ad pendulum was taking a big swing back the other way.
Now, another milestone demonstrates some sanity returning to ad land, as print ad revenue for news brands increases in the UK for the first time in seven years.
“For the first time there is some real evidence that the pendulum is on the move. Maybe some messages just take time to percolate,” writes Raymond Snoddy in Mediatel.
“And although it is maybe a little early to put out the bunting, the latest report from the Advertising Association/Warc, which saw advertising spending rise by 5.9% year-on-year in the first quarter to £5.7 billion, makes interesting reading,” Snoddy continues.
What’s behind the shift? For one, digital advertising is simply not as attractive as it was a few years back. Snoddy cites the ongoing fraud of bots, the lack of transparency on metrics, the hostile environment on social media, and brand credibility issues for the decline in value of digital ad space.
“On the other side of the equation independent research report after independent research report have piled up demonstrating the superior engagement, dwell time, financial value and the importance of trust generated by newsbrands, or as they should be known, providers of real news,” Snoddy writes.
Yet even with all that, the needle has been grindingly slow to move. Until now.
“For the first time there is some real evidence that the pendulum is on the move,” Snoddy writes.
“Maybe some messages just take time to percolate.
“And although it is maybe a little early to put out the bunting,” he continues, “the latest report from the Advertising Association/Warc, which saw advertising spending rise by 5.9% year-on-year in the first quarter to £5.7 billion, makes interesting reading.”
Some key findings from the report:
- Print display ads in national newspapers rose 1% in Q12018, the first bump up in seven years
- Ad spend in popular dailies rose by 2.8%
- Print display in the quality market had its best quarterly performance in seven years
Snoddy sees reason to hope that these modest shifts will become a permanent trend, thanks in part to more comprehensive and reliable data on which to make the case for advertising, and innovations in ad buying tech that make it easier and more efficient to buy and place print ads. Legacy media sure took the slow road to embracing ad tech, but these inroads will continue to move the needle back toward print ad revenue growth.
Somehow the digital ad duopoly doesn’t look so big and scary anymore, as Facebook reels from its massive hits on Wall Street and in the marketplace of public opinion.
“The very process and cost of [Facebook] becoming a respectable citizen will have the effect of creating a more even playing field and provide breathing space for existing media, which were being slowly squeezed to death,” Snoddy writes. “As long as the advertising industry recognises that the pendulum should yet gain some more momentum.”