A recent report by intelligence provider WARC reveals that the global advertising revenue for total print is expected to reach $47.2 billion this year, marking a decline of 7.7% compared to 2022. This drop continues a trend seen over the past six years, as the global ad market for print has halved in size. Meanwhile, digital media and retail media have been experiencing ad revenue growth, contributing to the broader advertising landscape. Overall, WARC predicts that the global ad market will reach $993 billion this year and is set to surpass the $1 trillion milestone in revenue next year.
Despite publishers offering digital media opportunities to advertisers, the revenue generated hasn’t been sufficient to counterbalance the ongoing losses from traditional print ad sales. Alex Brownsell, the Head of Content at WARC and the report’s author, notes, “For news brands and magazines, the modest growth in digital ad revenue has not been enough to offset the decline in print ad income.”
The report identifies several digital media companies that continue to divert ad revenue away from print. For instance, Amazon reported $37.7 billion in ad revenue last year, which amounts to 80% of the projected print revenue for 2023. Amazon’s ad revenue is expected to grow by 20.8% this year compared to 2022. It’s anticipated that Amazon’s global ad revenue will soon surpass that of print.
Other key findings from the report include the dominance of the digital duopoly, Alphabet (Google) and Meta (Facebook and Instagram), which are projected to capture nearly $400 billion in ad revenue this year, constituting about 40% of the global total. Additionally, ad revenue growth for traditional video, audio, and out-of-home advertising is predicted to rise by only 1.6% when compared to 2016. Despite this, there has been a shift from legacy platforms to digital platforms in these sectors. However, this shift hasn’t been as pronounced in the realm of print.
Not long ago, print dominated the global ad revenue landscape. WARC’s data indicates that in 1980, print accounted for 62.4% of all global ad spending. Television overtook newspapers in ad revenue in 2001. By 2010, with Google and Facebook emerging as the digital duopoly, print still held around 30% of global revenue. In 2007, the global ad revenue for print newspapers reached an all-time high of $121.4 billion, but WARC predicts that by 2023, this figure will plummet to $22.8 billion.
Looking ahead, the report anticipates that global print ad revenue will continue to decline as new ad revenue opportunities emerge. Retail media, with its enhanced data capabilities, is forecasted to generate $122 billion in ad revenue this year. With the ongoing challenges related to cookies and other privacy matters, retail media is projected to surpass television ad revenue by 2025.
Despite a challenging outlook, there are a few glimmers of hope for print. Media analyst Brian Morrissey points out that the New York Times has found success with digital ad revenue, establishing a sustainable and scalable news business model. The newspaper experienced a boost in digital subscription revenue during the Trump presidency and the COVID-19 pandemic.