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A vendor organises newspapers at her stall near Phnom Penh’s Wat Lanka in 2013.
A vendor organises newspapers at her stall near Phnom Penh’s Wat Lanka in 2013. Hong Menea

Advertisers spend less on print

Advertising budgets are getting bigger, but an increasingly smaller share of the revenue is going to traditional print media, with 2016 shaping up to be an exceptionally lean year, new market research shows.

According to unpublished data by regional market research firm Indochina Research, the advertising revenue of Cambodian newspapers and magazines declined sharply during the first quarter of the year, contrasting with a steep rise in spending on television advertising.

The total value of TV commercials on local channels reached $32 million from January to March, a 23 per cent increase over the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, the value of print media advertising declined to $2.4 million during the period, 26 per cent less than a year earlier.

Print media’s share of the advertising revenue pool has been on the wane for years. However, the new data – estimated by calculating the number of commercial spots on TV and advertisements in newspapers and magazines at standard rates – indicate a significant increase in the rate of decline.

In 2015, TV advertising revenue grew by 6 per cent to $122 million while print media advertising shrank 4 per cent to $13.6 million, Indochina Research said.

While the firm did not state the reason for print media’s continued losses, industry insiders attribute them to television’s market dominance and the proliferation of digital news outlets.

Lim Sreng, marketing manager of Hang Meas HDTV, one of the Kingdom’s most popular private television channels, said that while the amount spent on advertising increases each year, about 90 per cent of the budget is for TV commercials while only a fraction goes to print.

He added that as online news platforms and social media such as Facebook continue to grow in popularity, they are taking a larger share of the advertising budgets that companies would otherwise use to place print ads.

“As the number of online news sites has grown, advertising revenue at magazines and newspapers has decreased noticeably,” Sreng said, adding that the country’s leading newspapers have not been seriously affected, but smaller publications have seen their revenue stream dry up.

“Revenue from advertising at leading TV stations is increasing and I think a few of them are receiving between $20 million and $30 million per year,” he said.

Total advertising revenue in Cambodia reached $135 million last year, up from $124 million in 2014, according to Indochina Research. The data included advertising from television, newspapers and magazines, but does not include internet, radio or billboard advertising.

Hour Rathanak, sales and marketing manager at CNC TV, suggested that the actual revenue of advertising could be much lower as not all advertisers pay full price for their slots. He said in practice, television, newspapers and magazines offer extra slots or discount rates to advertisers.

“Not all commercial spots on TV are charged so the total number of slots cannot be converted to actual revenue,” Rathanak said, adding that while he feels total advertising revenue is on the rise, he doubts it has surpassed $40 million.

He said CNC TV’s parent company, Cambodian Broadcasting Service (CBS), consists of three television channels – CNC, CTN and MyTV – with about a 30 per cent share of the market and an estimated $20 million in advertising revenue.

Chea Garuda, managing director of Koh Santepheap Daily, one of the leading Khmer-language newspapers in Cambodia, said if print media’s advertising revenue was declining it had not affected his newspaper. While declining to give figures, he said advertising revenue was modest yet stable.

“We haven’t seen any significant change and we’re still focused on [print],” he said.

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