Sunday, January 20, 2008

What about the Durham H-S’s ad revenue?

I can’t give you exact figures because the Durham Herald Sun’s parent company, Paxton Media Group, is privately held and I was unable to obtain any ad revenue information from the H-S.

But I can tell you what the H-S ad revenue “picture” looks like to me based on the volume of ads appearing in the newspaper and the paper’s circulation,

It appears dismal.

Since Paxton took over the H-S three years ago this January and installed Bob Ashley as “Paxton’s man in Durham,” the volume of ads has plummeted.

Consider revenue-generating ad content in the H-S’s Monday, Jan. 14 edition.

The “A” section, which includes the editorial page and a half-page weather forecast, totaled 6 pages. (Yes, 6 pages.)

Of that total, about ¾ of a page was revenue-generationg advertising. There were four advertisers: two advertised storm windows, vinyl siding and the like, one advertised mattresses ( “Less money, more mattress”), and one was a bank.

The “B” or Metro section totaled 6 pages, with ½ page of that being a H-S circulation ad.

Obituaries comprised almost ¾ of a page. To its credit and reflecting the H-S’s heritage as “a community newspaper,” the H-S still publishes a basic obit at no charge. For an extended obit the H-S asks that you contact the paper for rates.

I estimate ads in the rest of the “B” section to total 2 pages, including a full-page ad by a hearing aid center.

The Sports section totaled 6 pages and contained no advertising.

A fourth section has a header: Marketplace. It totaled 6 pages and included almost 3 pages devoted to comics, the crossword, astrology, Hints from Heloise, bridge and TV listings.

There is one full-page ad but it’s not a revenue generator. It’s a H-S ad urging readers to use its classifieds.

The remaining two pages in the Marketplace section are devoted to classifieds which are typically big revenue generators for newspapers.

But scattered throughout the H-S’s 2 classified pages are many ads for H-S services. Also, the headers for each category of classified (auto, home, etc.) are large (about 2 inches long).

Of the 2 classified pages, I’d estimate the revenue generating space on those pages totals no more than a page.

Summing up – The Jan. 14, 2008 H-S contained by generous estimate revenue-generating advertising space of about 4 ½ pages. ( “A” section – ¾ page; “B” – 2 ¾ (I counted all of the obit space as revenue generating); Sports – 0; and Marketplace – 1)

In the past three years H-S circulation has declined by at least 25% while the population and economy in its circulation area boomed and the Duke lacrosse case played out on its doorstep.

There’s no doubt the Paxton Media Group is looking at a dismal revenue picture at its Durham Herald Sun.


Anonymous said...

Nice, amazing what you can figure out with a little time and common sense.

I bet Ashley is not a fan of JiC.