What the heck are publishers thinking?
A positively effervescent survey of more than 500 newspaper publishers yesterday predicted that advertising sales would drop only 0.2% in 2010 after plunging 28.4% in the first nine months of this year.
The man who conducted the survey doesn’t believe the publisher forecast. I don’t believe it. And neither should you. Which leads me to wonder: What the heck are publishers thinking?
In a survey of more than 500 newspaper executives, Kubas Consultants discovered that publishers evidently believe they are about to arrest the queasy slide in advertising revenues that has been accelerating since April, 2006.
Their lips to God’s ears, as my mother used to say. But does anyone see the economy recovering rapidly and powerfully enough to stop the long-running decline on a dime?
Take a look at the table at left, which compares the category-by-category forecasts in the Kubas survey with the actual performance of the newspaper industry in the first nine months of this year:
Do the publisher projections seem reasonable to you? Me neither.
Even the man who produced the survey has doubts about it.
“No, I don’t believe that ad sales will be down only 0.2% next year,” said Ed Strapagiel, the executive vice president who produced the Kubas poll. “On the other hand, I do believe 500-plus newspaper people would like to believe it.”
There could be “lots of reasons” for the chipper response from the publishers, said Strapagiel in an email from Toronto. His list, which follows in its entirety, certainly doesn’t contain any sparkling new initiatives to support the encouraging outlook:
:: “Wishful thinking.”
:: “Print people over-estimating the potential of online (which is the sole factor contributing positive gain).”
:: “Corporate insistence to make the online look better.”
:: “If I don't show better numbers, they'll cut my budget.”
:: “Optimism is better than slitting your wrists.”