The Decline of Newspaper Revenue and the Promise of the Human Network

It’s not news that newspaper revenue derived from advertising and subscriptions is rapidly eroding. While Madison Avenue worries about the recession and its impact on advertising in general, numbers recently published by the Newspaper Association of America indicate online advertising only continues to rise.

Perhaps most interesting is the impending intersection between the decline of a 200 year old institution and a new medium competing for the same precious ad dollars for only the last 15 years. According to this chart, the collision could occur as soon as the end of next year.

The fate of newspapers, and journalism, is tied to the publisher’s adeptness and mastery to reinvent the model for the creation, distribution, and promotion of information as it identifies and connects to the shift in social consumption. Content must migrate to the individual attention dashboard in order to trigger a reaction and reverberate across the social graph, and in turn, lead viewers, friends, and friends of friends back to the source of information.

It’s a value cycle that warrants ongoing sustenance in order to build a thriving community. It also injects a new formula that humanizes content and lays a foundation for contextual relationship building (online and in real life), linking the people who write to the people who read, share and respond, where they congregate online.

The human network can help traditional media effectively adapt to the social Web.

Tracking the Newspaper Fallout:
Paper Cuts
Brian McDaniel, “Will Online Ad REvenue Beat Newspapers in 2011?”

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  • Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Another great post.

  • Brian Solis

    Thank you Aimee!

  • Ken Leebow

    Your explanation is the beginning of a great article/explanation of what is happening. One that I have never seen articulated.

    Expand please . . .

  • BrianMcDaniel


    Could you please point to the source of your online revenue?

    When I went to the NAA website and looked at the “advertising expenditure” nmbers under “trends and numbers,” their online revenues were nowhere close to the numbers you have in your chart.

    The online numbers range from $1,216 in 2003 to $3,109 in 2008. While newspapers ranged from $44,939 to $34,740 in the same period.

    If I am looking at the right numbers, online revenue wont intersect for quite some time. My regression line suggests it’s closer to 4Q2010 when revenues intersect, but I don’t expect newspaper revnues to fall as dramatically as my Quadratic Regression predicts.


    Brian McDaniel

  • jessica.vanwinkle181

    The newspaper business needs to adapt or it won’t exist in a few years. I hope that they are able to survive. While I love social networking sites, I still enjoying reading newspapers. I do read newspapers in print, specifically the Herald-Leader and the New York Times. I like sitting down and spending time by myself reading. I know several people my age that still read the print newspaper. I know that most newspapers are already online, but there’s just something about a newspaper in print that I like. I hope that newspapers are able to adjust and continue to print; it would be a shame to have all newspapers online.

  • geoffrey gordon

    Great post it is a case of old media vs new media. I believe both the TV and radio would be showing similar results.

  • geoffreygordon

    Great post it is a case of old media vs new media. I believe both the TV and radio would be showing similar results.

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Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. More so, he humanizes technology’s causal effect to help people see people differently and understand what to do about it. He is an award-winning author and avid keynote speaker who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation and innovation.

Brian has authored several best-selling books including What’s the Future of Business (WTF), Engage! and The End of Business as Usual. His blog,, is ranked as a leading resource for insights into the future of business, new technology and marketing.

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