Internet Advertising a Boon for Print Media
For 95 years, Successful Farming magazine has carried advertisements touting the latest rodent killer or toy farm equipment. Now those ads are running alongside pitches for Web sites such as XSAg.com, an agrochemical auction site, and DirectAg.com, which sells seeds over the Internet.
At the onset of the Web revolution, traditional print publications were expected to be the most natural victims as consumers and advertisers flocked to the new medium. Instead, a surge in advertising by Internet companies has been an unexpected boon for newspapers and magazines.
At Meredith Corp., which owns Successful Farming, revenue from dot-com companies "has gone from almost not on the radar screen to probably 5 percent" of total advertising since the beginning of the company's current fiscal year, says Christopher Little, president of Meredith's publishing division.
At Audubon, a nature magazine published by the National Audubon Society, about 30 percent of the advertising pages will be Web-related by the end of the year. Already, Internet advertising has helped the magazine achieve its highest annual revenue in its 100-year history. "We don't care one way or the other why they want to advertise, but we are delighted," says Audubon publisher Jim Fishman.
It is rare that print publishers find an entirely new source of advertising revenue, such as when pharmaceutical manufacturers started marketing directly to consumers in the early 1990s. Behind the new rush are companies spending freely on marketing in a scramble to grab market share on the Web.
Akamai Technologies Inc., an 18-month-old Cambridge Mass., company that provides Web-site infrastructure, is devoting 95 percent of its marketing budget to print. One reason, says David Goodtree, Akamai's vice president of marketing, is that it is impossible to squeeze all the information from a two-page magazine ad onto a banner ad on a Web page.
Total ad spending in magazines by online and Internet service companies more than doubled in the 1999 first quarter to $47.9 million from the year-earlier quarter, according to Competitive Media Reporting, a research organization. For national newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, total first-quarter spending on such ads increased 2.5 times to $20.1 million.
Those figures don't include spending by brick-and-mortar companies promoting their Web sites or by general technology companies marketing their Web services.
The advent of dot-com advertising comes at a time when some traditional print advertisers, such as automobile makers, have been spending less overall on advertising. …