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The Impact of the Internet on Advertising Markets for News Media

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  • Susan Athey
  • Emilio Calvano
  • Joshua Gans

Abstract

In this paper, we explore the hypothesis that an important force behind the collapse in advertising revenue experienced by newspapers over the past decade is the greater consumer switching facilitated by online consumption of news. We introduce a model of the market for advertising on news media outlets whereby news outlets are modeled as competing two-sided platforms bringing together heterogeneous, partially multi-homing consumers with advertisers with heterogeneous valuations for reaching consumers. A key feature of our model is that the multi-homing behavior of the advertisers is determined endogenously. The presence of switching consumers means that, in the absence of perfect technologies for tracking the ads seen by consumers, advertisers purchase wasted impressions: they reach the same consumer too many times. This has subtle effects on the equilibrium outcomes in the advertising market. One consequence is that multi-homing on the part of advertisers is heterogeneous: high-value advertisers multi-home, while low- value advertisers single-home. We characterize the impact of greater consumer switching on outlet profits as well as the impact of technologies that track consumers both within and across outlets on those profits. Somewhat surprisingly, superior tracking technologies may not always increase outlet profits, even when they increase efficiency. In extensions to the baseline model, we show that when outlets that show few or ineffective ads (e.g. blogs) attract readers from traditional outlets, the losses are at least partially offset by an increase in ad prices. Introducing a paywall does not just diminish readership, but it furthermore reduce advertising prices (and leads to increases in advertising prices on competing outlets).

Suggested Citation

  • Susan Athey & Emilio Calvano & Joshua Gans, 2013. "The Impact of the Internet on Advertising Markets for News Media," NBER Working Papers 19419, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19419
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Attila Ambrus & Emilio Calvano & Markus Reisinger, 2016. "Either or Both Competition: A "Two-Sided" Theory of Advertising with Overlapping Viewerships," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 189-222, August.
    2. Alexandre Cornière & Greg Taylor, 2014. "Integration and search engine bias," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 45(3), pages 576-597, September.
    3. Claude Crampes & Carole Haritchabalet & Bruno Jullien, 2005. "Advertising, Competition and Entry in Media Industries," CESifo Working Paper Series 1591, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Randall Lewis & Justin M. Rao & David H. Reiley, 2015. "Measuring the Effects of Advertising: The Digital Frontier," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Analysis of the Digital Economy, pages 191-218 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Franklin M. Fisher & John J. McGowan & David S. Evans, 1980. "The Audience-Revenue Relationship for Local Television Stations," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(2), pages 694-708, Autumn.
    6. Mark Armstrong & Julian Wright, 2007. "Two-sided Markets, Competitive Bottlenecks and Exclusive Contracts," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 32(2), pages 353-380, August.
    7. Matthew Gentzkow, 2007. "Valuing New Goods in a Model with Complementarity: Online Newspapers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 713-744, June.
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    9. E. Glen Weyl, 2010. "A Price Theory of Multi-sided Platforms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1642-1672, September.
    10. Ambarish Chandra & Ulrich Kaiser, 2010. "Targeted Advertising in Magazine Markets," CIE Discussion Papers 2010-02, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
    11. Simon P. Anderson & Stephen Coate, 2005. "Market Provision of Broadcasting: A Welfare Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(4), pages 947-972.
    12. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2011. "Ideological Segregation Online and Offline," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1799-1839.
    13. Jonathan Levin & Paul Milgrom, 2010. "Online Advertising: Heterogeneity and Conflation in Market Design," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 603-607, May.
    14. Dirk Bergemann & Alessandro Bonatti, 2011. "Targeting in advertising markets: implications for offline versus online media," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(3), pages 417-443, September.
    15. Gerard R. Butters, 1977. "Equilibrium Distributions of Sales and Advertising Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 465-491.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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