Understanding the Drop in Print Ad Spend This Year

This spring we covered an intriguing story about the drop in print ad buys in the early months of 2018. We came across the story thanks to Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni who took 16 of his students from the Magazine Innovation Center at U. Miss to visit Todd Krizelman, CEO of ad sales intelligence firm Media Radar.

“During Todd’s presentation he mentioned that 20,400 print advertisers stopped buying print in the first four months of 2018,” Husni writes. “So, I asked him the common sense question that any journalist should ask when faced with a statistic like that.”

That question, of course, is: If they aren’t advertising in print, where did they go? 

His answer was surprising, and blew away some of the pre-conceived ideas that these brands were leaving print in favor of digital.  “Of the 87,943 advertisers that stopped placing in print in 2018, 7,467 (8%) instead ran a digital campaign in 2018 during the same time period,” he told Husni, continuing, “92% of the 87,943 stopped buying all together.”

The stats are picking up a lot of coverage in the media world, and Tony Silber recently interviewed Krizelman to get more insights around what this means for print media sales teams. Their conversation was published in JamesGElliot.com.

Asked by Silber what takeaways we should glean from this, Krizelman explains, “It disproves that advertisers are moving in droves to digital. But it raises a question about the quality of the overall market for advertising. A disproportionate number of companies sat out at the start of this year.”

He believes they are sitting out largely due to Amazon’s influence, as the majority of the brands that dropped out were retailers. And he expects 2018 to be a “humbling” year for many media companies. 

The solution, he tells Silber, is do a better job training media buyers on how to buy from publishers. 

“We work with 2,200 ad-sales teams,” Krizelman notes. “There continue to be complaints that buyers don’t value print. But few companies are training their clients how to buy print. This is the opposite of the digital space. In digital, employees are certified to the IAB method.”

This will involve, naturally, adopting new sales and marketing tools and new services. 

“The companies that have the most enduring success are the ones that correctly recognize that we are in a period of sustained interruption. Firms that stay current and lean into change are outperforming others,” he concludes.

For publishers, there is no more blaming digital. That’s been busted wide open. The solution is continuing to educate your potential ad partners, make it easier for them to buy from you, and support them with top-of-the-line editorial content.