This article was published 16 years ago

Record traffic for financial sites up but still short in ad revenue

During these trouble economic times (*drink), traffic is up on financial sites but ad revenue is down according to the International Herald Tribune.

The recent surge in interest in financial news was most immediately evident on the Internet. In October, the number of visitors to Web sites affiliated with The Wall Street Journal more than doubled, to 40.5 million, according to Dow Jones, which publishes The Journal. Other financial sites, like Yahoo Finance, have also shown big gains as worried investors click back again and again to monitor the decline in their portfolios.

CNBC, the business news television channel, said U.S. daytime viewership in the third quarter was up 26 percent from a year earlier. International audiences are harder to track, but CNBC said the number of e-mail messages from viewers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa grew by 180 percent in September.

Unfortunately, more traffic to sites doesn’t mean more revenue.

With advertising harder to come by, financial publishers are going directly to their readers for revenue. That is a reversal from the trend of recent years, in which more and more kinds of media content was made available free, supported by advertising.

Pearson, the publisher of The Financial Times, was already moving to lessen its exposure to advertising before the financial crisis intensified this autumn. It raised the price of The FT, sold newspaper holdings in Spain, France and Germany, and acquired businesses that rely on subscription fees, like Mergermarket, which reports on the mergers and acquisitions business Advertising has been reduced to less than a third of revenue at the FT Group, which includes The Financial Times, Mergermarket and other journalistic businesses, from more than 50 percent in 2000.

In other words, financial sites are getting the bulk of their income from subscription fees rather than advertising. Wonder if we’re see the Financial Times ditch print and switch to online only?