The King is (Almost) Dead, Long Live the King

Advertising spend figures confirm that although print is on the verge of receiving the last rites, its successor � online content � is healthy and ready to rule�

You know the saying �Lies, damn lies and statistics�? Well, there are a few nervous old-media executives desperately hoping that the recently released 2010-11 financial year advertising-spend stats are nothing but insidious lies.

According to the figures from research house SMI, as reported in �The Australian�, the $13 billion Australian advertising market is in decline, with newspapers (down 13.4 per cent) and magazines (down 17 per cent) being hit hardest.

Television and radio are also down (6.6 per cent and 4.9 per cent) respectively, while cinema advertising (which isn�t technically part of old media, but is an important indicator of where and how consumers are spending their entertainment dollars) has fallen by an alarming 26.7 per cent.

Online ad spends, meanwhile, have risen in the last financial year. Only by 5.2 per cent, but in the context of across-the-board falls in the other media sectors, that represents a remarkable result.

So what conclusions can we draw from this? Well, for starters it seems that social media and online content is not only to blame for the decline in the quality of newspaper content, but for the demise of newspapers in printed format.

End of an era

Media analyst Roger Statton Colman has claimed that �the death of The SMH and The Age as profitable papers will occur this decade�, as readers and advertisers alike have been lost to online platforms over the last few years.

The question is whether such circulation and revenue declines can be reversed by transferring traditional publications to the online space. Print executives certainly believe mastheads and quality journalism has a future online. But with more and more people preferring to receive their news and information on a peer-to-peer rather than publication-to-people level, a large question mark hovers Sword of Damocles-style over that assumption.

What is unarguable is that online content is the future. It may be possible for past and present publishing models to stake a claim on that future, it may not. But every organisation in every industry needs to have a compelling online presence across a variety of platforms, including websites, social media and mobile content.


The advertisers already know that online is where the consumers are heading in their droves � that�s why they�re spending there.

It�s time for everyone else to realise that, too.


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