Future of Advertising in Print

Posted on 7/13/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

In late June, Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer predicted the continued decline of print as an advertising medium and told attendees at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival: “[In the future,] all content consumed will be digital, We can only debate if that may be in one, two, five or 10 years… In 10 years, it will all be online.”

Ballmer continued, “I don’t think we are in a recession; I think we have reset. A recession implies recovery, and for planning purposes, I don’t think we will. We have reset and won’t rebound and re-grow.” He warned that media companies should not plan for revenues to bounce back to pre-recession levels.

If he is right—and a lot of hopeful people disagree with this pessimistic assessment—what does that mean for photographers whose livelihoods are based on producing still photos designed to be used in print for advertising or editorial purposes?

According to TNS Media Intelligence, Internet’s share of total media ad spending in the U.S. is rising by at least 1% a year and is expected to be 15% of total ad spending by 2013. In 2008, total U.S. ad spending was $23.4 billion, and it is expected to rise to $37.2 by 2013. At the same time, U.S. magazine ad spending dropped 20.5% between the first quarters of 2008 and 2009, and newspaper advertising went down by 25.5% during the same period. (Second quarter results are not yet available.)

Publicis-owned ZenithOptimedia says that digital advertising is the one bright ad platform out there. The company predicts that in 2009, digital advertising will increase by 8.6% globally, while the overall market will decline by 6.9%.

The latest from Followthemedia on media ad spend worldwide supports predictions of a decline.

There are several reasons for this continued shift.

  • Many marketers find Internet ads more measurable than other media. This creates a relatively safe haven in tough times, when budgets are tight.

  • Marketers see Internet ads as more targetable, which makes for more efficient spending.

  • Marketers continue to rebalance their overall ad budgets, moving a greater share online to more closely match the increasing amount of time people spend getting their information there. In general, companies continue to shift a percentage of ad dollars away from newspapers, radio, magazines, yellow pages, direct mail and even television to interactive channels.

The larger question

Obviously, the public has flocked to the Internet as an information platform, but do people pay attention to online advertising? The answer to that question “is somewhat in the balance as we move forward,” said Ballmer.

It may be clear that print advertising is declining and that advertising revenue is the only thing that keeps most print publications alive. The larger question is whether the digital platform is conducive to display advertising at all, or whether an entirely new vehicle for communicating advertising information will need to be developed.

Today, the only kind of advertising that really seems to work online is search. Banner and brand-building ads do not seem to garner much attention. Video advertising is rapidly gaining ad dollars, while marketers are expected to spend substantially less on static display banners in 2009 than just a year earlier.

Ad agencies are no longer putting all their eggs in one basket. They are trying everything. Once they find something that can capture the attention of consumers, they will be encouraging their clients to make use of the new format, whatever it is, and it may not include much in the way of generic—non-product—photos.

Copyright © 2009 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


  • Morgan David de lossy Posted Jul 13, 2009
    Will there ever be good news for stock photographers again?

    Is there a future in shooting stock professionally?

    Will we become obselete soon?

    ... sorry for the pessimist questions.

    Have a good summer.


  • Ted Spiegel Posted Jul 14, 2009
    Sitting on the john, paging through one's electronic device may not be that practical since generally speaking john walls are thick and there is poor reception. For many, this is the library moment. Enigma and hope.

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