May 12, 2009

Fairfax classifieds nearly halved year-on-year

New page-count research shows big falls in the volumes of classified advertising in the key Fairfax papers.

Eric Beecher — Chairman of Private Media (publisher of <em>Crikey</em>)

Eric Beecher

Chairman of Private Media (publisher of Crikey)

Here’s a story you won’t read in The Age or The Sydney Morning Herald tomorrow:

This newspaper is publishing 50 fewer classified advertising pages each week than it was a year ago, according to the latest research by Goldman Sachs JB Were. This reduction in advertising translates into at least $1 million off this newspaper’s profits every week compared to a year ago.

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3 thoughts on “Fairfax classifieds nearly halved year-on-year

  1. James O'Neill

    It is probably correct that the downturn in newspaper advertising is cyclical and when the economy recovers at least some if not all of that advertising will return. But there is a more serious problem facing the SMH, Age and other newspapers. Readership has been bleeding away for some time now and that is highly unlikely to return unless newspapers recognise the reasons why their readership is deserting them and address that problem by transforming their news and editorial pages.
    Readers who have access to the internet now realise just how selective the Australian media’s coverage is of a huge range of topics. I think it was Orwell who said that the greatest lie is not what we are told but what we are not told. That was never more true than in today’s SMH, Age, Australian etc.
    Newspapers also appear to assume that their readers have no capacity to remember anything beyond yesterday’s headlines. Thus they rewrite history at will, for example, the reasons for invading Iraq and the reasons now advanced for maintaining a “presence” there. Ditto Afghanistan. The opinion pages are full of conservative commentators and even allegedly “liberal” writers are well to the right by the standards of European newspapers.
    A further factor is the stranglehold on the media by three companies and three families in particular.
    It is impossible to even begin to feel sorry for the plight of these newspapers when they are so singularly unable to recognise their deficiencies and take serious steps to correct them.

  2. Cavitation

    The newspapers just don’t get the internet. Their internet site is now, or shortly will be, their primary product, while the printed paper is just a secondary version. Yet, there does not seem to be much evidence that the people in charge recognize this.

    I used to buy the SMH on Saturday, but seldom do so now. I don’t like buying a newspaper, and coming home, and shoving half of it straight into the bin unread. Sometimes I like seeing the advertisements when there are sales on, but these only appear in the print version, and I cant understand why these don’t appear on the web site, since you should be able to change more to the advertiser to get access to people like me. Even when I buy the paper version, I discover that many of the stories I have already seen; they are reprinted from the New York Times, or the British newspapers, that I have read on the internet earlier…

    They are trying to ignore the Internet, wishing it will go away. It wont tho…

  3. John Kilner

    Eric Beecher should compare the decline in newspaper advertising to past recessions rather than a year ago. What’s the point of comparing today’s rate to one year ago? How does the decline compare to past declines during times of recessions? And the answer?

    Well I have insider trading. I just rang my friend who spent over twenty years working at The Age counting pages of advertising from across the media. Her view on Eric’s figures? Oh, not too different a decline than other recessions she counted. “The advertising declines fast and comes back fast fast. Watch the rate of growth when the recession is receding; that will be the real telling point.”

    To those who see the death of newspapers [and boy, I wish those who argue their faults have a look at newspapers from the past in the newspaper reading rooms of state libraries to see how adaptive and resilient they have been] should measure overall newsprint consumption, Australia wide and globally. Why? Because it is growing dramatically. The issue is not just about quality [I have just come home on a train full of people reading a free, low quality one] but about how they have been marketed and how they will be marketed in the future. Their engagement with an audience. The Age is read by 15 grand final crowds for over 40 minutes each Saturday. Some decline…

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