£7bn ad spend shows print is alive and well

In view of the current economic downturn, the plunging share prices of media companies and the prevailing view that newspapers are in terminal decline, many print journalists are no doubt dusting off their CVs and looking out for well-paid and secure PR billets in Government departments and local authorities.

But before you throw in the towel on the noble quest to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, as HL Mencken once put it, check out the latest figures from the Advertising Association on print spending.

In 2007, press advertising – that’s magazines and all newspapers combined – was by far the biggest medium in the UK, accounting for 39.8 per cent of the pie, or £7.1bn. It was down 1.6 per cent year on year, whereas internet advertising was booming – up 39.5 per cent year on year to £3bn – clearly sugggesting that print publishers are right to be piling into online as aggressively as they currently are.

But to suggest that online will replace print seems ludicrous, judging by these numbers. Many thought radio would lead to the death of print – ubiquitious and free as it was – but in 2007 it accounted for less than a tenth of the ad spend that print received in the UK.

And despite the fact that many Britons spend far longer watching TV than they do reading newspapers and magazines, even this medium has yet to supplant the hegemony of the printed word. TV remained in a distant second place in 2007, worth £4.7bn.

These are tough times for print journalists, but let’s not forget that, cover sales aside, print remains a £7bn-a-year industry. And supplemented by booming online revenues, it should pay all our mortgages for a good many years to come yet.

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