Niche media may feel pinch as ad buyers tighten budgets

The ripple effect from the cooling housing market will impact advertising and media budgets in 2008, say industry experts.

On the heels of a cooling housing market, advertisers are reigning in budgets, says Melissa Deitz, senior media planner at The Glenn Group. When company budgets shrink, advertising is the first thing to get cut. Radio reps say car dealership advertising is off, she adds. Even billboards are coming open. But TV still reaches 96 percent of the public.

That means a gaggle of niche publications and Web sites may be among the first to feel the pinch.

Becoming so targeted and focused makes advertisers happy, but the challenge is how to increase circulation when serving a niche, says Steve Schroeder, manager at Synergy Communications.

"Publishing goes through cycles; right now we're in an expansion," he adds. "The boom in building had an impact: RLife, Carson Magazine, Reno Magazine, all carry a lot of ads for building materials. And those magazines relating to home improvement will really get hit."

However, he adds, health and nutritional- related products may replace that lost advertising.

But print is not alone among segmented media.

"Cable TV was first to segment audience down to a finite core," says Greg Fine, principal at Ding Communications. Niche magazines followed that.

"Niche media is able to target a specific audience but it makes buying a lot more difficult," he says. "It's not just the numbers. It's as much art as science."

How does a media buyer develop that nose? "Being sponges; being aware of the changing world," says Fine. "It keeps multiplying by the minute."

Too much choice can present a problem in itself.

"There are so many small publications now that it gets to be time consuming to review them all," says Deitz. "Many seem so much alike we wonder what's the difference."


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