Online news sites are struggling to get advertisers to move from their traditional platforms to online outlets. One of the effects of that, according to a new report from Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, is that more than one in five ads on news websites are house ads.
The implications are obvious to an industry that’s struggling with declining offline subscriptions and interest: News organizations need their advertisers to shift online just as viewers/readers have been doing in recent years.
Pew studied 22 U.S. news organizations last summer and analyzed almost 5,400 ads across their online and “legacy” (offline) outlets, such as TV networks and print magazines. (Here’s the full list of news outlets studied.)
One of the key takeaways from the study shows how much trouble the news industry is having in moving advertisers from offline to the web. The most common type of ad found on the news websites was ads promoting the news organization itself — “house ads,” as they’re commonly called.
House ads accounted for 21 percent of all the ads studied, a few percentage points higher than financial ads. Magazine websites had the most house ads, Pew found, some with more than half of their ads promoting the magazine itself or its parent company.
Pew says newspaper websites had the second-highest amount of house ads at 21 percent, compared to just nine percent in their print versions. Television news websites had far fewer house ads than newspapers and magazines. Foxnews.com was the only site studied that had more than 10 percent house ads (it had 12 percent); all of the other TV news sites studied carried 3-7 percent house ads.
Online Ad Targeting
One other interesting nugget from the Pew PEJ study: Most of the sites studied showed no signs of targeting online to individual users. Only three of the 22 sites showed “high” targeting, meaning that at least 45 percent of the ads were different from one visitor to the next. Three other sites showed “medium” targeting (between 20 and 40 percent of the ads) and the other 15 sites showed little or no targeting at all.
The three “high” targeting sites were Yahoo News (67 percent of ads were targeted to individual users), NYTimes.com (47 percent targeted ads) and CNN.com (45 percent targeted ads).
The full report is available online.