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The Canary At The New York Times Grows Larger As Internet Advertising Keeps Dropping

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The advertising situation at the New York Times is not getting any better. Today, the company released its fourth quarter earnings. Total advertising revenues were down 13.1 percent in the quarter to $1.8 billion. Of that, its total Internet advertising revenues (from NYTimes.com, Boston.com, and About.com primarily) was only $$81.9 million, down 3.5 percent.

Internet advertising only accounts for 12 percent of the company’s annual revenues (for the year, it made $309 million from Internet advertising, up 9.3 percent). But as one of the largest media sites on the Web it is an important bellwether.

When the New York Times reported last November was the first time Internet advertising revenues declined (by 3.8 percent), I called it the canary in the coalmine. In December, things took a turn for the worse, with Internet advertising revenues dropping an even steeper 12.7 percent. (In addition to reporting quarterly results, the New York Times also reports financial data on a monthly basis. Until now. The company announced today that it would no longer report monthly, which is one way to stop a steady drumbeat of negative news about the company’s deteriorating finances).

One factor that might be contributing to the decline in online advertising for the New York Times is a 17 percent drop in U.S. visitors to its flagship site, NYTimes.com. According to comScore, the site attracted 10.8 million U.S> visitors in December, down from 13 million in November. Globally, the site attracted 17.9 million visitors in December, down 14 percent. Call it post-election blues.

(Photo by matticgn).

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