Post ready to sell soul; pulls back at the brink

Well, they’ve done it a couple of times now, so it seems to be a policy. The Arts and Life section has a cover that looks like an editorial, but is actually an ad, this time (Tuesday Dec. 6), an ad for hmv for Amy Winehouse’s postmortem album. This is ethically dodgy enough to begin with, but when you open to the editorial page, there is a cover pic and review of the same album. Expecting an adman’s gush job on the album, I was pleasantly surprised that a proper, objective review of the album was done by Mike Doherty, noting as other reviewers did that this is an assemblage of outtakes and songs earlier not deemed fit for release, and hence for fans only. Still, I wonder how long it will be before the ad guys start “suggesting” lines for the editorial side. This is very close to the edge for the National Post.

Online ads beat print ads

The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (which I’ve never heard of) reports that online advertising reached $2.2 billion in revenue last year, nosing out print at $2.1 billion. Television ad revenue leads the way at $3.4 billion. However, online grew at a rate of 23 per cent while TV revenue grew at a rate of 9 per cent. In the age of the mobile/ handheld/Ipad/etc., it seems the trend will only continue. I’ve been considering not renewing my subscription to the Regina Leader Post; why pay $400 a year for subscribing to the news I read online last night? If  Postmedia got smart, which I haven’t seen so far since it’s still working on 1999 convergence strategy, they would follow the New York Times model of charging for online content.

Back to the future: US newspaper ad revenues at 1962 level

Just to verify what everyone knows, US newspaper advertising is in steady decline, reaching, in inflation-adjusted levels, the same amount as in 1962. That year, of course, the big tech news was that color TV was coming, even though the sets might costs as much as a good used car. The Newspaper Association of America came up with these numbers, noting that advertising, particularly want ads, were migrating to the much cheaper web. I doubt it would be different in Canada. The Sun chain is dying, propped up by Quebecor, and Postmedia today announced it is listed on the TSX, but has not offered its IPO, most likely on the grounds that no sensible investor would buy into this company unless it killed the money-sicking National Post first. Globe and Toronto Star continue to do well, particularly the Globe which in its latest incarnation is focused much more heavily on backgrounders and analysis than on breaking news, which it can’t compete with.

CTV, March 16 2011

Ad rates slow to recover: Scotiabank

Scotiabank has peered into the future and determined that while ad rates will increase over the next five years, they still won’t get back to pre-recession levels. The result: probably more fired reporters replaced by high priced digital executives with a mandate to invent a profitable model for melding digital media with news. Let’s see, it’s been about 20 years since Netscape delivered the Net, and MSM is still trying to figure out a business model for it. How about this: charge for it.

Canoe media, Feb. 10 2011