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Media bigs: No ad turnaround until 2010


The traditional media industries will continue to make New York City their home, no matter how bad things get. But according to the media bigwigs who spoke at Crain’s Future of New York City conference Tuesday, media executives admit they weren’t prepared for dealing with the pain of a recession and transition to the Internet simultaneously.

“The economic problems we’re experiencing now, on top of this tremendous transition [to the Internet], is almost a double whammy,” said Jeff Zucker (pictured), chief executive of NBC Universal. “Nobody expected to be fighting both battles at the same time.”

Mr. Zucker was joined at the conference’s media and information session by Shelly Lazarus, chairman of Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide, and Mortimer Zuckerman, owner and publisher of the Daily News.

Mr. Zuckerman was particularly vocal about the challenges facing newspapers as their readership—and advertisers—move online. Internet ads draw a fraction of the revenue traditionally garnered from print ads.

“You’re substituting nickels, maybe quarters, for dollars,” he said.

Though he said that online advertising is growing while print is declining, he added that “the losses in one are not [made up for] by the gains in the other.”

Ms. Lazarus tried to strike a hopeful note on the issue of Internet advertising, explaining that online display ads—which are the kind that run on newspaper and local television station Web sites—haven’t proved effective with consumers.

The ad industry has to figure out how to make that kind of advertising better at reaching consumers. “When we figure that out, you can charge for it and the pricing will be in equilibrium again,” she promised.

“I don’t think that’s very close,” Mr. Zucker responded candidly.

Mr. Zuckerman said that he did not expect a turnaround this year for advertising in the Daily News, which has been hurt by severe cutbacks in ads from auto dealerships and major retailers. “I don’t believe it will change in 2009,” he said. “I hope it will change in 2010.”




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