How online advertising depends on the newspaper

In the second instalment of a series, Alan Mutter tries to poke a hole in the belief that stopping the presses would drive up digital advertising for newspaper sites.

Mutter, in his Reflections of a Newsosaur, notes how online advertising is tied heavily to print advertising. Stop the presses and a few difficulties ensue, among them:

  • A certain number of advertisers would stop doing business with the outlet because they don’t yet understand the Web
  • Newspaper Web sites would be uncompetitively priced, so they’d have to lower prices further and drive out more revenue
  • Jobs in advertising departments would be threatened.

The end result would be a decline in revenue, which would lead to more cuts, inevitably back in the newsroom.

Mutter’s series so far is shedding some excellent light on the situation. The newspaper still generates upward of 90 per cent of revenue, and quite a bit of the online revenue is packaged as part of a print buy. Even though the print model has its challenged, taking it down creates a new series of challenges that might be even harder to surmount.