MediaRadar Blog

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2018 Print Advertising Is In Decline, But Advertisers Not Moving to Digital


Mr. Magazine—“You asked what happened to the 20,400 print advertisers who stopped buying print?” Todd Krizelman, CEO, MediaRadar, writes, the results are definitely surprising!

Of the 87,943 advertisers that stopped placing in print in 2018, 7,467 (8%) instead ran a digital campaign in 2018 during the same time period. 92% of the 87,943 stopped buying all together.

I had the pleasure to visit (with 16 students) with Todd Krizelman, CEO of MediaRadar, earlier in the week. During Todd’s presentation he mentioned that 20,400 print advertisers stopped buying print in the first four months of 2018. So, I asked him the common sense question that any journalist should ask when faced with a statistic like that. Todd graciously offered to follow-up on my question, “which turned out to be a riddle.” His quote, not mine.


“There is a decline in print advertising in 2018, but very few of the brands who stopped placing ads in print moved to digital (which is so often the assumption). The following analysis reveals the surprising shifts in ad spend at the start of the year.

Based on MediaRadar analysis, there were 172,155 advertisers in print in Jan-Apr 2017 and 151,825 in the same period 2018, a decrease of 13%, or 20,330 advertisers. The 20,330 is the net decline, not the number of companies however that stopped buying year-over-year in this period. There were in fact 87,943 brands that stopped buying altogether in print.

That 87,943 brands stopped buying is not surprising (more on this shortly), but the net decline of 20,330 is a concern. Posted below is what we discovered.

i. Normal Advertiser Churn:

In most years we observe that only about half of advertisers buy again in the following year. This at first seems surprising, but it’s not unexpected. Here’s why:

1. Perishable Advertisers. Many advertisers have a short shelf life. For example: movie advertisers do not renew their campaigns. Real estate brokers and developers too buy 1x for each property.

2. Changing Product Lines. Many companies introduce new products each year, only advertising their new models. Technology companies are a great example. Their products have a short shelf-life and so the same product rarely renews. In local markets restaurants and bars tend to only spend when they launch.

ii. Unexpected Advertiser Churn:

This past year there were two categories of advertisers that were disproportionately impacted. Retail and real estate advertising were both down sharply. The two categories represent a big piece of print advertising especially. There were ~8,000 retailers that went out of business in 2017, more than any other year in history (Source: Fung Global Retail & Technology/ Credit Suisse), and the single worst year since 2008, when the market last collapsed. Many casually assign the decline in retail to the rise of firms like Amazon. Additionally, with rising interest rates, mortgage refinancing is crashing (down 40% last year, and expected to decline again 26%k) and new home buying is in decline. Just Friday morning, May 18, the WSJ wrote about the topic “The Era of Low Mortgage Rates Is Over”.

iii. The Takeaway

Of the 87,943 advertisers that stopped placing in print in 2018, 7,467 (8%) instead ran a digital campaign in 2018 during the same time period. 92% of the 87,943 stopped buying all together.

Of the 7,467 brands buying digital in 2018, 3,228 of them were new to digital (they didn’t run digital campaigns Jan-Apr 2017). This means that just 3.6% actively moved their business from print to digital this year.

While this analysis disproves that advertisers are moving in droves to digital, it does raise a question about the quality of the overall market for advertising. Bottom line is that a disproportionate number of companies sat out the market at the start of this year.”


See the full story here.