How does Disruption look like in Print Media

Not because you already anticipated it, it’s less of a dramatic picture. The chart from Statista shows the result of how technology reinvents industries.

In 2004, Google’s $3Bn business seemed nothing compared to a $70Bn industry. Only eight years later, Google is bigger than the entire Print Media business in US.

A single company — let’s call it the disruptor— is worth more than the entire industry it disrupts, in less than a decade!

Though it is the company that gets more attacks from the newspaper and magazine industry, Google was not the only one driving the change.

  • Some years ago when you wanted to sell a car or a house, there was one obvious place to advertise: Newspapers. Nowadays you would only think of eBay, Craigslist or Carlist.
  • Bloggers were the first to grab readers from traditional media, though Google Adsense dollars helped here.
  • Then came the big social media boom with Facebook and Twitter attracting eyeballs from other media.
  • And finally, also contributing to the decline in offline revenue, Print Media has gone online, though they have not been too enthusiastic about exchanging “paper ads dollars by online cents.”

Print and online magazine advertising spending in the U.S. from 2010 to 2016
You will find more statistics at Statista

After disruption, is the resulting market smaller or bigger?
U.S. Print Media went from a $72bn peak in 2006 to $42bn in 2011. Where has all that money gone? Online, right?

According to GroupM, online ad revenue in US in 2011 was $34.5Bn (*). You make the numbers and that means that the size of Print Media + Online combined add to $76Bn. Around same market size as in 2006.

Roughly, you could conclude the combined market of “disrupted + disrupting” has not de-materialized the industry.

Jobs: A collateral damage of disruption?
The most visible effect in jobs is the change in skills and preparation. New jobs online require more preparation than those in the old industry. And for sure they need different skills.

Disruption due to new technologies often creates inflation in preparation. The lowest rank worker in the new industry will require far more preparation than in the previous one. E.g. Less skilled jobs like printing operation or distribution are replaced by technology. If you are a junior journalist you are now in the lower ranks, in the sense that the jobs less skilled than yours are all replaced by technology. You need much more preparation to be a journalist than to be a guy in the distribution chain.

On the other hand, a system like Adsense enables a bigger crowd to benefit from advertising. Now if you are a junior journalist you can join the Long Tail of  bloggers and be self-employed. Online ads, combined with indie publishing, are the foundation of the Digital Renaissance we live in.

How does print media respond to that?
Sadly enough, we have the example of France, where print media lobbies politicians to tax the innovator, in order to protect the status quo and delay the inevitable. As RIAA already demonstrated in the music industry, trying to stop change with lawsuits is not the best way to deal with disruption.

* Google makes 95% of revenues from Ads and U.S. represents 46% of their worldwide business. As Google reportedly has 44% market share in U.S. online ads, numbers are consistent.
Global online advertisement spending in 2011
You will find more statistics at Statista

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