May 08, 2012

Local advertisers next to flee newspapers?

Classified advertisers started leaving years ago, in some cases to Craigslist, in others, to the likes of Monster and CareerBuilder.

Next were the national retailers. Some, years ago, notably Walmart, opted for direct mail only rather than inserts. For page-based, or ROP advertising, company websites became first a supplement to, then more and more a replacement for, the newspaper. Social media accelerated that trend.

And now, even with an economic recovery of some sort, national advertisers are in no hurry to come back. And why should they? Between house websites, social media and Google searches, they have a presence, and will focus more on beating competitors on visibility, branding, etc., there.

That's not just retailers, but individual brands, etc. Especially for service companies, it's a no-brainer.

But, through all of this, allowing for the economic downturn, local advertising had seemed steady.

However, it appears that Pat’s Diner, the local Ford dealer (not just Ford the company), and others are also looking to move on elsewhere.

Not a surprise, overall, from personal knowledge though the amount of decline is, as it looks like local businesses are going to slash newspaper advertising in years ahead.

And, this will affect smaller papers than your major metros, or even mid-sized ones. In fact, it will affect the “community” five-day and six-day dailies, and even non-dailies, perhaps, even more than seven-day dailies.

In this case, it’s a mix of things.

In some cases, small business owners have developed basic website design skills themselves. That’s helped by WordPress remaking itself to be more than just a blogging site.

In other cases, it’s social media, as with bigger companies. In a number of cases, companies aren’t even doing a website, just a Facebook page, or “presence.”

If a small-town, or small-county, Chamber of Commerce has a website, and one with links to member businesses, that’s about all that’s needed to get visibility on the Internet.

Add to that another part of WordPress. It, and Blogger, are letting people start online “newspapers” in small communities to compete with the traditional ones. Sell ad space, or even sell linking, and the newspaper, even as a hobby, is making a few bucks.

So, expect this trend to continue. Even accelerate. 

Next? As recovery stays slow, look for more state governments to change laws about public notice legal advertising in newspapers.

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