Newspaper Ad Spend In USA & What India Can Learn

There’s a lot that the newspaper industry in India can learn from what’s happening in US

The newspaper industry globally is in deeper mess. According to recent data released by the Newspaper Association of America, total newspaper ad spent fell another 7.3 percent in 2011 to reach $23.9 billion, getting to a low that was last seen in 1984. This data was seen despite the overall growth in media ad spent by 0.8 percent last year.

Yet what has proven to be the biggest disappointment is that the rate of decrease of spending in the last year was faster as compared to 2010 and stood at 6.3 percent. And it is the print edition of newspapers that are suffering the most. Print ad revenues reduced a whooping 9.2% last year. Even classified ad spent fell by 11 percent.

However there was a bit of good news in the horizon as well. Online advertising on newspaper brands was up 6.8 percent reaching a total of $3.2 billion.

Experts have been talking about this decline in newspaper ad spent for years. What they were desperately hoping was that the rate of increase of online revenue would match this rate of decline. However that has not happened, leaving newspapers more worried than ever about their future.

This lack of ad spent in newspapers has been observed in most of the developed world. India, compared to these figures of the US or the rest of the developed world, provides a very different picture. In India, the print industry grew by 8.4 percent from 2010 to 2011 i.e. from Rs. 193 billion it grew to Rs. 209 billion (all figures from the FICCIKPMG India Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2012).

Even advertising revenue grew 8.7 percent while circulation revenue grew 3.7 percent. Thus unlike many global markets, India continues to show a growth in the newspaper industry every year. With literacy levels going up and more people being added to the target audience of newspapers, this healthy growth is expected to continue another five to ten years.


The Indian newspaper industry it seems has nothing to worry about. That is surprisingly not the case.

In many other things, like information technology, India has had the opportunity to leap frog to the advanced technology rather than struggle with creating it. A similar opportunity is staring at the face of the newspaper industry.

Globally, since the last half a decade, newspapers have struggled to retain their foothold in the changing times. With most people shifting to reading their news on newer devices like tablets and even smart phones, this decline will be further intensified. This has forced the industry to adapt to the changing times. Many have made mistakes but some clear patterns of what the industry should do to survive is emerging.

Thus the smart Indian newspaper would be the one who would not wait for the situation to get dire. Instead looking at where newspapers are going globally, they will be ready when their time comes. They’ll have invested in the infrastructure required to be ready for the future. Indian print industry is thus in the midst of exciting times, where they can learn from the mistakes of their global counterparts and avoid getting into the mess they have gotten into.

Indeed in the next couple of years, this will no longer remain a choice, but will become a kind of necessity and the one who will adapt the quicker, will not only survive, but thrive.


One thought on “Newspaper Ad Spend In USA & What India Can Learn

  1. I am a print media buyer specializing in classifieds. We run into more and more newspapers that do not print classifieds in all their editions each week. I do not understand that as those pages are generally 100% paid advertising. I wonder if part of the drop in their classified revenue is because the publishers are opting out of printing that section. I know we sometimes have advertisers that want to run on days that they simply do not publish ads!

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