Digital revenues at Trinity Mirror & Johnston Press: Better than expected

This morning, Trinity Mirror announced that digital ad revenues grew by 15.5% during the four months between July and the end of October. That’s down from the 40.2% YOY increase announced for 1H08.

Yesterday, however, Johnston Press announced digital ad growth of 36.8% between July and October.

The first thing that needs to be said about both sets of numbers is that they point to a creditable performance — not least when compared with Nielsen’s recent suggestion that digital display ad spend declined by 5.3% during Q2.

Or, for that matter, Enders Analysis’ forecast that digital display advertising revenues in the UK will be flat at best during Q3.

The welcome suggestion is that digital revenues at both Trinity and Johnston Press are more robust than elsewhere in the market.

Even so, we’re left with an obvious question: why is Johnston Press outperforming Trinity so comprehensively in terms of digital ad growth?

It’s possible that Trinity Mirror faced tougher comparatives with prior year performance.

But if that’s the case, can we expect to see Johnston Press catching up with the downward trend that’s visible at Trinity Mirror?

Quite possibly. Yesterday, Stuart Patterson, JP’s CFO, cautioned analysts on the subject of that 36.8% growth rate. “In recent weeks,” he said, “we’ve seen quite a slowdown in digital advertising.”

No surprises there. Around half of JP’s digital revenues are employment-related. On this basis, further slides seem inevitable.

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