Question for you..how many print ads did you make this year?
Holy crap, that many!
To make and run print ads that help build brands, we need healthy newspapers and magazines. But newspapers are slip slidin’ away at an alarming rate. Over the last 15 years, newspapers have lost $35 billion in ad revenue and nearly half of their staff. Over 2,000 newspapers have shut down across the country, local newspapers and over a thousand more are ghost papers. They’re just shells of their former selves, they’re producing very little original reporting.
Foundations have led the way in supporting nonprofit journalism. Given the scale of the crisis, we need to expand philanthropic giving from the hundreds of millions to the billions and prioritize local reporting. Shout out to initiatives raising funds: @NewsMatch, @JournalismProj pic.twitter.com/BJBgEDHMgE
— Viktorya Vilk (@VilkViktorya) December 16, 2019
Viktorya Vilk is correct to point out that there are alternate funding sources for newspapers, provided the market for news see newspapers as a civic good worth preserving. In communities around the nation, this question has been decided by a click-happy marketplace. That’s why 2,000 newspapers have shuttered since 2004 (the same year Adpulp.com was born).
Warren Buffett Believes, “Newspapers Are Toast”
After investing in The Omaha World-Herald and other titles, the world’s greatest investor now believes newspapers are toast. To understand why Warren Buffett thinks the newspaper party is over, it helps to understand why he believed newspapers worked in the first place.
“It was survival of the fattest,” he explained. “Whichever paper was the fattest won, because it had the most ads in it. And ads are news to people.”
“They want to know what supermarket’s having the bargain on Coke or Pepsi this weekend and so on. I mean, it upsets the people in the newsroom to talk that way, but the ads were the most important editorial content from the standpoint of the reader,” he said.
Advertisers Can’t Be Passive Observers of More Newspaper Death
Newspapers have lost $35B in ad revenue since 2004. Damn…
Guess who else is reeling from this loss of revenue? We all are. Brand impact, the kind delivered by attention-grabbing print ads, is fading fast. In its place are dumb little digital boxes with nothing but poorly conceived product pitches in them.
News flash: programmatic ads still have to work as ads. Ads of any form must be powerful enough to stop a person from scrolling.
Newsageddon Meet Retail Apocolypse
Look away and digital disruption may wipe out all you’ve known. That’s the case for retail workers at Payless and many other stores.
Rona McClaughlin, 47, says she is left with plenty of questions about what happened to Payless – as well as the entire retail sector, which has been hit by 75,000 announced job losses from the start of 2019 through November. In her view, few policymakers focus on the job losses in the retail industry, which have an outsize impact on the female workers who sit behind cash registers and interact with customers in apparel stores such as Payless.
“Ninety percent of the time,” the workers “were all women in my store,” McClaughlin says. “You lose your job after 20 years, and it’s like, ‘Who cares?’ ”
The bankrupt footwear retailer accounts for the largest number of store closings in 2019 with more than 2,500. Nationwide, more than 9,200 store closings were announced this year, 59% higher than in 2018, according to global marketing research firm Coresight Research.
Retail pain is reverberating. In the spring of 2018, Pier 1 was still profitable, but its top-line and comparable sales were deteriorating.
Less then a year later, S&P rated Pier 1 deep in junk territory, with a CCC- grade, on the increasing possibility of a bankruptcy or out-of-court debt restructuring. Today its sales are falling in double digits and its profits have turned negative. The retailer most recently posted a net loss of more than $100 million and is said to have hired financial advisors as it reckons with its balance sheet.
What’s An Ad Person To Do?
The advertising profession is being hurt by the retail sector’s decline and by the loss of newspapers. A coordinated response is in order and there’s no time like the present.
Because programmatic ads are mostly void of meaning, and online shopping is convenient but lonely and sterile, there’s an opening for creative agencies to offer better brand experiences at the point of sale, while utilizing newspapers as the single source for find price-based promotions. We help newspapers, retailers, customers, and ourselves. Are you in?
On an individual basis, you can also make a difference by subscribing to newspapers, and by shopping at retail stores. While you’re at it, take a taxi to a newsstand. Okay, that’s asking too much. Use a rideshare App.
We will never turn back the clock on digital, but we can move ahead undisrupted, which means a fair and thorough evaluation of what works and what does not work. Digital’s first tsunami left no time for evaluation. But now we can pick and choose the devices and the behaviors that fit.
As an industry, healthy media channels and stores with people in them will always be highly desirable. It’s up to leaders throughout the industry to evaluate the need for brand impact and how to best achieve it. I’m convinced it won’t be via programmatic ads served upon faulty assumptions in a sea of ad fraud. Let’s drive the ad train back into the station.