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April 6, 2008

Leading publisher confirms online shift in ad spend

If there was ever any doubt about where marketing spend on traditional media is going to, then a recent article on timesonline (yes, that’s the online version of The Times newspaper) provides a major hint. The website cites searchmedica.co.uk, the new online spin-off of the weekly general practitioner magazine Pulse, as “an example of the measures that trade publishers are having to take to meet the challenge of the internet”.

The article goes on to suggest that the growth of online job sites and pay-per-click advertising is decimating publishers’ advertising revenue. David Levin, chief executive of United Business Media, which has launched searchmedica, agrees, having experienced the effects first hand with leading US IT title Information Week.

“Having already lost its classified advertising to job sites such as Dice.com, Information Week has more recently been hit by advertisers abandoning print altogether, in preference for the sales leads generated by Google-style search advertising,” wrote timesonline, quoting Levin as saying: “Print is great for building brand and [market] position,” said Levin, “but it’s not so good for generating leads.”

Any optimism over an advertising revival for publishers seems to have now been well and truly quashed, as a result of the clear shift of spending to the internet.

According to Levin, this is creating palpable uncertainty in publishing. “Media is terribly unloved,” he told timesonline. “All the [internet] promise of 1998 is coming through suddenly now, provoking blank stares of astonishment. Investors don’t know what businesses will survive.”

Confirmation of the problems throughout traditional media were made even more apparent recently when SMG, which owns the former Scottish TV and Grampian franchises, Virgin Radio and the Pearl and Dean cinema advertising business, issued a profit warning – chiefly as a result of poor advertising revenue.

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