Advertisers across the board deserted News Corp's Australian papers in 2012-13 -- from the “adult personals” sector to big banks. For the first time leaked documents reveal the income flows across all sectors of advertising for the largest media company in the country – and the picture ain’t pretty.
While News' digital advertising stood out, with revenues rising in 2012-13 to nearly $38.8 million (from $35.8 million the year before), the improvement fell far short of the budget for the year of $43.1 million. And that $3 million increase from digital ads is negligible when seen against the $295 million plunge in total ad spending for News in the same financial year.
From travel and communications (which recorded particularly big falls in 2012-13) to employment, finance, cars and gambling, advertisers spent much less in News Corp Australia's papers in 2012-13 than they did the year before. Total ad revenues fell 17.8% to $1.4 billion in 2012-13, from $1.7 billion the year before -- a drop of $320 million.
Total display ad revenues for News' Australian papers fell 17% to $845.6 million in 2012-13, from $1 billion the year before; classified ad revenues fell nearly 21% to $337.7 million from $426.6 million. Colour magazine ad revenues slumped 23% to $87.3 million, and revenue from inserts dropped 16% to $54.4 million.
Circulation revenues fell 4.6% to $444.4 million, while the charmingly described “sundry” revenue fell 19% to $46.9 million from $58.15 million in the year to June 2012. “Sundry” was not explained in the accounts -- just a lazy $46.9 million that couldn't be slotted into any of the categories of advertising or circulation income.
Travel was one of the largest areas of advertising income for the papers in 2012-13, spending $64.85 million, but even that represented a 26% slump on the $88.1 million spent the year before. Government advertising dropped to $36.8 million from nearly $47 million, while spending by advertisers in the food and beverage industry dropped 23% to a touch over $8 million. Computer advertising is a shadow of its previous strength (witness the absence of computer liftouts and weekly sections) and totalled just $3.6 million in the year to June 2013, down 27% from $4.9 million spent in the previous year.
Ad spending by advertisers in the communications industry plunged nearly 60% in the year to $10.7 million from $26.5 million the year before. Spending from the media sector (TV and radio companies mainly) dropped 13% to $9.8 million, while car companies and dealers cut spending on display car ads by 10% to $29.5 million. Spending by pharmaceutical companies fell 13% to just over $11.3 million, while finance companies (mostly banks and fund managers, etc) slashed their spending by 27% to nearly $42 million from $57 million. Spending by personal care companies (perfumes, etc) fell 23% to $6.5 million.
Even spending by the sex industry was down. The report shows $19.1 million worth of classified in "adult personals" sector were sold in 2012-13 year, down 11% from $21.5 million in 2011-12.
And among the big-ticket advertisers such as retailers like Woolies, Coles, David Jones and Myer, spending was cut 12% to $303 million from just over $344 million. Real estate advertising fell 18% to $127.1 million (from just over $154 million); employment fell 38% to just over $17 million. Spending by advertisers in the “amusements” sector (movie theatre chains, Australian Opera, symphony orchestras, nightclubs, etc) fell 14.5% to $55.5 million. Spending by motor vehicle advertisers dropped to $25.3 million from $27.3 million, and employment advertising shrank 38% to $17 million from $27.6 million.
But at least News’ accounting department is on the ball. The final week of the 2012-13 financial year was also the last week of News Corp as we then knew it -- the Murdoch empire split in half on June 28, 2013, into 21st Century Fox and News Corp, with the local arm being renamed News Corp Australia. This huge, 200-page report was produced for management on July 5, just five days after the end of the financial year.