Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Circulation and Advertising Data are for People Who Can't Adjust to Reality

Want some good yucks? The Publishers Information Bureau can provide them. Their October magazine advertising report sets up the joke: "Total magazine rate-card-reported advertising revenue for the month of October increased 3.5% compared to October of last year..." Get it? "Rate-card-reported." If Wal-Mart reported its sales at list price, the SEC would call them on the carpet in seconds. So here's the punch line: "Ad pages totaled 24,416.75, down 2.1% from October 2004." That's the third straight month of decline. Their effusive headline is so bullish it implies a healthy business, but then all you have to do is look at the data and the rug is pulled. People forget that GDP data are reported as inflation-adjusted. Even their rate-card comparisons are half that of current-dollar GDP. Putting a happy face on retrograde data just undermines credibility with incongruity. Last I heard, the recognition of an incongruity was called humor.

Newspaper circulation down -2.6% for the first six months of the year. For years newspapers were in denial about the effects of electronic media, often citing that they had withstood television and radio' growth. Those were quite different. The Internet is portable, and everywhere, on a wide range of devices, and accessible at any time. The lack of diversity in the editorial thought of newspapers have made them sitting ducks for other media, such as blogs, to rise up. Yes, editorial does really matter. But most of all, publishers were counting on older readers. Uh-oh. Those older readers, the wealthiest, healthiest, most educated senior cohort ever, are the fastest growing Internet users. Denial, like procrastination, has immediate rewards. It's like that old Steve Forbert song: "I'd rather see it when it's all around me. Hey, what's the hurry?"

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act has some unintended consequences that divert dollars away from small business core competency and send the dollars to accounting firms instead. A particular section, 404, (how funny... thats the number of the error you get when a web page no longer exists) is causing great concern, as discussed in a recent American Electronics Association white paper. http://www.aeanet.org/governmentaffairs/AeASOXPaperFinal021005.asp

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