End of the nosedive for print news and mags dollars? Starcom's top advertiser survey says maybe

By Brendan Coyne | 3 February 2014

Australian marketers representing billions of dollars of ad spend may have signalled the end of the nosedive for print newspaper and magazine revenues.

Print newspaper revenues have been under serious pressure for the last few years, especially those placed by media buyers. While newspapers make a significant chunk of their ad dollar direct from advertisers, advertising dollars placed by media buyers last year fell $200 million. That drop came off the back of a $192 million drop off in media agency bookings the previous year.

Magazines have also endured double digit declines in revenues placed by media agencies. Last year magazines took a $75 million hit, according to SMI data.

But research released today in Starcom MediaVest's Media Futures report suggests the freefall may be over. Investment in print newspapers is expected to decrease -2.7%, it states, with magazines looking at -8.9%.

Media buyers have expressed similar sentiment in recent weeks, although the likes of John Steedman and and Peter Horgan have suggested the decline for newspapers will be closer to 10% than five percent.

However, the survey also took in the views of media owners, and the print newspaper and magazine component were the most bullish about revenue growth for 2014. Newspaper execs predict 6.5% growth in 2014. Magazine execs predict 5% growth. Last year they respectively predicted -1% and -5%. SMI data, while purely based on media agency bookings, showed decreases in revenue of 18.1% for newspapers and 19.6% for magazines.

Meanwhile the survey sample from Australia's top 600 advertisers suggested radio advertising is in for a bumper year, as is mobile, including in app advertising. Those categorories were earmarked as having the biggest percentage increase in use across categories by advertisers. However, the survey includes a caveat that usage by marketers may not necessarily relate to spend. Online comparison sites may see more dollars too.

Advertisers are also more likely to use apps, social media conversations and CRM activity - such as customer magazines - to reach their intended audience. Of the latter, Coca-Cola has combined two elements in its recent website overhaul, now more like a magazine than a corporate website, it has been lauded as the future of brand websites and the death knell of corporate sites.

The report also predicts 4% revenue growth for free-to-air TV.

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