Ad Spending on TV and News Follows Tech’s Downward Trajectory

Image Credit: iStock Images, dusanpetkovic

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They’re the canaries in the content mines.

Meta, Snap, Twitter, and Alphabet all reported slumping advertising revenue last month. Now TV and news are following suit, demonstrating that the global ad slump is sparing no industry.

A Metaverse First

It’s no secret that digital marketers adore social media platforms. Unrivaled for their ability to isolate millions of users based on specific personas — they can deliver performance-based (read: ROI positive) campaigns at scale. So when Meta reported its first revenue decline in history, and Alphabet its slowest growth since 2020, the writing was on the wall for the broader ad market.

If Big Tech — owners of the most powerful advertising tools in existence — can’t sell as many ads, you can only imagine what it’s like out there for their TV and print counterparts:

  • Gannett, America’s largest newspaper publisher, cut its profit outlook after advertising and marketing revenue fell 8.7% last week. On Thursday, Warner Brothers Discovery slashed its full-year profit guidance for 2023 from $14 billion to “at least $12 billion,” citing advertising slowdowns due to economic uncertainty.
  • “Looking back at prior recessions, traditional media ad formats such as TV and print focused on brand advertising, have notably underperformed online advertising,” MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson wrote in a recent report. “We think that this time shouldn’t be that different.”

Fortune Cookie(less): Adding to the ad industry’s gloom are headwinds for personalized tracking technologies. Digital platforms are still adapting to the new era of privacy ushered in last year by Apple’s App Tracking Transparency policy. By 2023, marketers will also be operating sans cookies, also known as the tech that allows banner ads to stalk users across the internet — with no consensus yet on what will replace it. In the latest blow to online tracking, last week, the UK’s data watchdog announced an investigation into the online gambling industry. Of chief concern are ultra-targeted profiles which can zero in on specific pikers’ favorite games, weakness for certain types of ads, and overall inclination to gamble. Spooky.