Print may not be dead, but it’s on its way out. Circulations and advertising revenues are still falling sharply year after year, and it’s taking its toll on everyone’s favourite 'mid-market newspaper', the Daily Mail.
The paper’s owner, Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) said in a trading update for the three months to June 30 that revenues from newspaper ads were down 15% from the previous year. This was ‘weaker than expected’ (one would hope so) and the group may well hope it is merely a dip, but there’s no denying that print advertising revenues are only going south.
This is partly explained by declining circulations. Despite both the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday growing market share, circulation revenues fell 3%, slightly better than previous quarters. As circulations decline, of course, the value of advertising space in the papers also falls.
Print ads are also facing increasing competition from their slick, often interactive, online cousins. This is a less painful development for the Mail than for other newspaper brands. The MailOnline is, thanks it its addictive sidebar of shame, one of the most popular news sites in the world. Its advertising revenues rose by £1m (7%) in the quarter, at least taking the edge off the £7m print decline.
It’s inescapable that print is being eaten alive by the internet, which is replacing it as the dominant news medium. There will always be some people who just prefer the feel and experience of a newspaper, however, so eventually the decline should slow.
The real question for publishers is how long it will take to reach that point, and how low it will go. With newspaper circulations generally still falling by up to 10% a year and digital revenues unlikely to get anywhere close to the old print peaks, it’s not looking great.
Fortunately for DMGT, mass market consumer media isn’t the only product in its bag. Its larger B2B division (including business information and events) had underlying growth of 1% over the period, despite ‘challenging market conditions’.
This helped soften the overall fall in revenues to a mere 1%, though this means DMGT now expects its full year results to be at the lower end of market expectations. Shares fell 8.3% to 851p on the news.