McClatchy reports decline in ad revenue, positive results with paywall

McClatchy, the parent company of The Kansas City Star, reported a decline in overall advertising and circulation revenue in its third quarter earnings report, but executives were bullish on new programs designed to boost the company’s intake.

Advertising revenue slowed its decline, but was still 5.4 percent less than a year ago this time. Digital advertising continued to grow, however, and now accounts for about 23 percent of the company’s newspaper revenue.

McClatchy’s president and CEO Pat Talamantes said two new company ventures are showing promise. McClatchy debuted a social media marketing agency, impressLOCALTM, in the spring. It’s being tested in Kansas City and Fort Worth.

“While still early, our sales efforts have been positive and we plan to roll out impressLOCALTM to our other larger markets in early 2013 with our remaining markets to follow later in 2013 or early 2014,” he said.

In July the company announced it would implement paywalls at all of its papers, including The Star. It began testing paywalls at five papers, The Sacramento Bee, The Modesto Bee, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Ga., and the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss.

“We are excited about the early results,” Talamantes said. “Thus far, only a small percentage of renewals have opted out of the Plus program, telling us our print readers value our content and high-quality journalism and are willing to pay extra for it in digital form. Similarly, we have added thousands of new digital-only subscribers to our paying customer base. We intend to expand this model to our other markets beginning next month.  We believe the new subscription revenues will begin to make a more significant impact in the fourth quarter. In 2013, we believe the new Plus program could add more than $20 million depending on a number of factors, including how quickly we complete our company-wide rollout.”

The company reported circulation revenues were down 2 percent

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