Saturday, November 27, 2010

Be thankful for advertising

Remember Black Friday 2010. It marks the beginning of the nation's recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-2010.

The mighty American consumer, taught the harsh lesson of credit-card debt, is back in the market, but this time buying with cash in the bank.

Online shoppers boosted online retailers' revenue by 16 percent on the Friday after Thanksgiving, according to the Associated Press, while long lines in the dark hours before dawn Friday proved before doors even opened that brick-and-mortar shops were going to have a good day.

Locally, you could tell that advertisers were back in force in the Denver Post.The Post has been selling the bottom of its Sunday front page for more than a year now, it seems. Since summer, the newspaper has sold the top-right corner of the page, labeled "Today's Daily Deal," to a variety of advertisers. And now the newspaper is selling off the bottom of page 2 as well, depriving readers of the interesting short items it has regularly showcased in that space but driving up ad-sales revenue that much more.

After all, what's a newspaper for? To share the news and serve the public interest? Not necessarily.

Newspapers survive today by selling space to advertisers; and the Great Recession for Newspapers, which began even before the nation's latest financial crisis, has proved unarguably that business survival is the ultimate goal of any newspaper, just as it is for any business.

In fact, newspapers, today, are not much different from any retailer; the ad sale is king, and not much will get in its way. Walmart, for example, long prided itself on not having to advertise in media because its low prices would lead consumers to its aisles simply by word-of-mouth. Today, however, Walmart is inserting ads in the Post like any other big-box seller.

I no longer argue with newspapers on that score. My profession as a journalist is dependent on the ad sale, and plenty of jobs collapsed when advertisers moved from newspapers to other venues to deliver their messages.

And if Today's Daily Deal for pole-dancing lessons, symphony performances and home-security packages do the trick (pun intended), then I'm all for using the deals to give working journalists some white space to fill with news.

And you can't argue with the results. If ads spur consumer spending, and consumer spending creates jobs and jobs create more spending, then an economy that is sputtering back to life is what every American, even the underemployed and unemployed, can genuinely be thankful for on this holiday weekend.

I am.

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