TODD SMITH — Digital ads grow, news outlets get smaller share — tips for better business writing
Digital advertising in the U.S. accounted for $42.6 billion in revenue in 2013, an increase of 16 percent over 2012, according to the financial analysis firm eMarketer.
But while that digital ad revenue is growing, the numbers show that news organizations are competing for an increasingly smaller share of those dollars.
While Google’s recent announcement of a 26 percent increase in ad volume in the first quarter of 2014 disappointed Wall Street investors who thought the number might be higher, it highlights the problem for the journalism business. Big tech companies that largely aren’t in the business of creating news content continue to dominate the digital ad space, often because they are able to reach much larger audiences than news organizations can.
In the first quarter of 2014, Google earned 90 percent of its revenue from digital advertising, and the ads that appear around Google search results remain its main source of that revenue. But display ads — which include banner ads and video ads that are increasingly critical to newsrooms’ revenue — are a growing part of Google’s ad business. Google and other large tech companies are able to place display ads across a large network of websites and can target that advertising more effectively than a single website (or news organization) can.
News Organizations Need Ad Dollars
Even so, news organizations need digital ad dollars as their advertising revenue shrinks. New numbers from the Newspaper Association of America show that daily and Sunday print ad revenues in the newspaper industry fell another 8.6 percent in 2013. Yet digital advertising among newspapers last year grew at only 1.5 percent – too slowly to balance out the print losses. The association reports that digital ad revenue now represents 19 percent of overall newspaper ad revenue.
• In 2013, overall digital display advertising accounted for $17.7 billion, up from $14.8 in 2012. But major social media and tech companies — Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL — accounted for 51 percent of that nearly $18 billion in revenue in 2013. That share is up substantially from 38 percent in 2009 and it edged up slightly from 2012 (50 percent).
• Facebook has sprinted past Google to become the biggest player in the digital display ad market, bringing in $3.17 billion in revenue in 2013 compared with $2.99 billion for Google. As recently as 2009, Facebook controlled only 7 percent of the digital display market.
• A main source of digital ad revenue for news is banner advertising, a sub-category of display ads. Banner ads, the image or text boxes that surround web content, make up 23 percent of all digital ad revenue. In 2013, banner ads accounted for $9.6 billion in digital ad sales, up 12 percent from 2012.
• Digital video ads, another subset of the overall digital display market, accounted for $4.15 billion in sales in 2013. This is up from $2.89 billion in 2012, a 43.5 percent
• Mobile advertising more than doubled from 2012 ($4.4 billion) to 2013 ($9.6 billion). And mobile display advertising — which news organizations hope to tap into — grew from $1.9 billion in 2012 to $4.3 billion in 2013. A Pew Research Center survey found that 51 percent of smartphone owners and 56 percent of tablet owners reported getting news on those devices in 2012. The bad news for news, however, is that nearly three quarters (73 percent) of those mobile display dollars are collected by five companies—Facebook, Google, Pandora, Twitter and Apple. And their share of that pie grew from 64 percent in 2012.
10 Tips For Better Business Writing
With all the digital news swirling, the Spin Cycle has to throw in some sage weekly writing advice. Words are whirring all around us – from cyberspace to our inboxes to the Twittersphere. Now more than ever, we must focus on clear, precise language and basic writing rules to become better communicators and rise above all the noise.
Strive for clarity.
When you’re composing e-mails, make your point and move on. If your big idea isn’t in the first paragraph, put it there. If you can’t find it, rewrite. Use plain English, and be specific.
Always use active verbs to energize your prose. Passive verbs are the first way to lose your audience and end up in the round file. Mind your subject-verb Ps and Qs. Pay attention to the use of “that” and “which.”
Here are some classics on writing and grammar that you should keep handy as you wage your clarity battles: The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White, The Associated Press Stylebook and The Word, by Rene J. Cappon.
Forbes recently compiled 10 tips for better business writing, which reinforces what we have been spinning!
1. Put metaphors on the back burner. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you often see in print.
2. Use simple, concrete language. Never use a long word where a short one will do. More often than not, an everyday word is better than a bookish one. Use simple, clear, precise language. Instead of mentioning “the current situation,” explain exactly what it is.
3. Omit needless words. Be ruthless about self-editing. If you don’t need a word, cut it.
4. Stay active. Never use the passive verb where you can use an active verb instead. Active verbs help energize your prose. Instead of writing “The meeting was led by Tom,” write “Tom led the meeting.”
5. Use English. Never use jargon, a foreign phrase or a scientific word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Using jargon is lazy, and it clouds the message that you’re trying to deliver. Using foreign language makes you look like a showoff.
6. Curb your enthusiasm. Avoid overusing exclamation points. Use professional signoffs like “Best” or “Regards” instead of something cutesy like “xoxo.”
7. Match your subject to your pronoun and verb. This tip sounds obvious, but people often get it wrong. The number of the subject (whether it’s singular or plural) determines the number of the verb. Use a singular verb form – and pronoun – after nobody, someone, everybody, neither, everyone, each, either.
8. Limit your use of adverb. Use a strong verb instead of a weak verb and an adverb. Instead of writing “Sales grew quickly,” try “Sales accelerated.”
9. Know when to use “that” and “which.” “That” introduces essential information in what’s called a “restrictive clause.” “Which” introduces extra information in a “nonrestrictive clause.
10. Don’t confuse “affect” and “effect.” “Affect” is a verb that means “to influence.” “Effect” is a noun that means “result.” The weather affects our ability to travel, and had a terrible effect on my flight to Jackson.
Melted Mic | Donald Sterling, Despicable Disgrace
Donald Sterling is a sorry excuse for a human being. The despicable disgrace who was banned for life by the NBA in response to appalling racist comments, fined $2.5 million and is on the brink of having his team yanked from him by the NBA – should get more! The Spin Cycle is also banning his mic for life. Committing him to audio Alcatraz! Yanking his mouthpiece for eternity. There is no place for his ilk in sports or in life. He needs to crawl back under the rock he came from. He is the Jeffrey Dahmer of brands! Kia, Red Bull and State Farm — all of which have featured Clippers players in their promotional materials – left the team, as did national and local advertisers such as CarMax, Virgin America, Corona, Commerce Hotel & Casino and Samsung. For that, Sterling takes a molten hot, melted mic with him when the NBA kicks him to the curb – which will no doubt be applauded around the globe.
Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising — and those who don’t. Stay tuned — and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!
» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him @spinsurgeon.
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