Google, the Reigning ChampNovember 28th, 2012 |
There’s been an impressive chart floating around the internet since mid-November. It shows that Google’s ad revenue, as of the first six months of 2012, is greater than that of all U.S. print newspapers and magazines combined. This is a first, but there are a few details of which advertisers and content publishers need to be aware.
For your edification, here’s the now famous chart.
Looks impressive, doesn’t it? Google’s advertising revenue has been skyrocketing while print publications have dwindled. The decline of print is nothing new. With the growing use of convenient, mobile devices, picking up a paper or magazine becomes redundant or even wasteful.
Journalists, don’t despair! What’s not addressed in this chart is the fact that many news and entertainment publications have an online presence or have moved completely into the digital space. These content producers are still producing content, and they’re still making money with ad revenue, but they’re doing it online. In many ways, the online presence of traditional media lives in symbiosis with Google. Quality content gets top billing in a search and that search is accompanied by ads that help Google continue to refine its search algorithm.
Google, unlike the newspapers and magazines considered here, is a worldwide endeavor. The internet isn’t exactly borderless, but the borders are more permeable, and Google’s presence can be felt wherever the internet is. In addition, the way that Google uses ads is impossible in print media. It’s an apples and oranges comparison in many ways.
While this chart may be nurturing a false dichotomy between print and digital media, it does draw some much needed attention to both forms of content distribution. Print ad revenue is on the decline, which means that print is on the decline. To survive as a medium, print media can’t stick with the same business model and expect the world to stop changing. There’s still a place for ink and paper, but what that place is needs evaluation. In the 24-hour news cycle, paper is becoming less relevant. For things that people collect, where the format of the artifact is part of the value, print is still king. People collect books, they build libraries, and they buy the compilations… but I digress, as that’s a conversation for another time.
Google, on the other hand, is king of the online ad for the time being, but they shouldn’t get too comfortable either. There’s always something new and something better. Social media, for example, is demonstrating a greater impact on buying decisions than online ads. The ad business is becoming fuzzy, and it might be getting back to the roots of awareness over leads and the word-of-mouth generated by a quality product.