Online Ad Revenue Drops, But Fear Not

This slightly alarmist but still insightful piece from the New York Times noted last quarter’s decline in overall ad revenue for newspaper websites. The headline “Web Revenue is Stalling” makes it sound as if the online news industry is doomed and will never recover, but that headline could just as easily have been written “As Usual, Advertising Slips In Bad Economy”. I imagine all media will see a decline in growth or outright shrinkage in ad revenue until the economic pendulum swings back the other way, so introducing the story in the “We’re all gonna be out of a job” way is a good attention-grabber but not very accurate.

I did enjoy the part of the piece that went into detail on ad networks, particularly when Steve Stup from WPNI was quoted. I think networks are a positive thing for the present online conditions, though I do appreciate the commoditization argument and how that represents a potential danger. But with online display advertising still in its infancy — no shop right now is seeing online creativity the level of which goes into TV or print — this is a good way to go in enticing old advertisers into the new market. As advertisers become more familiar with the online audience and get a grasp of where their ad dollars will be most effective, then that represents a chance for publications to break away from networks and distinguish themselves as an independent inventory opportunity.

Damn, can anybody tell I just got done writing a corporate strategy paper this morning? The MBA curriculum is crowding my brain.

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