What Earnings Reports Have Revealed About Ads

Published February 14, 2012 9:00PM (EST)

Here are highlights of recent quarterly earnings reports from selected Internet and media companies and what they say about the state of spending on advertising:

Jan. 19: Google Inc.'s fourth-quarter earnings report shows that the Internet search leader fetched less money per click on its ubiquitous online ads. That came as an unsettling surprise because investors had assumed a surge in online holiday shopping in the U.S. would enable Google Inc. to charge more for its ads. Instead, the average price decreased by 8 percent from the same time in 2010.

Microsoft Corp. reduces losses in its online services division, which includes the ad-supported Bing search engine. It lost $458 million in the latest quarter, down 18 percent from a loss of $559 million a year earlier. Revenue grew 10 percent to $784 million.

Jan. 24: Yahoo Inc. says that after subtracting advertising commissions, revenue totaled $1.17 billion. That was $20 million below analyst projections. It's the 13th straight quarter that Yahoo's net revenue has declined from the prior year. Yahoo predicted its net revenue in the first quarter will range from $1.02 billion to $1.1 billion. The mid-point of that target works out to $1.06 billion, unchanged from last year's first quarter.

Meredith Corp., which owns women's magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens and local television stations, says quarterly net income and revenue fell in late 2011 because of weaker political advertising.

Jan. 26: Time Warner Cable Inc. says advertising revenue fell 10 percent to $242 million in the latest quarter, primarily because of decreases in political advertising.

Jan. 30: Gannett Co. says revenue in its publishing division fell 5 percent in the latest quarter. The company attributed that to lower advertising amid the economic softness in the U.S. and the U.K. Broadcasting revenue fell 14 percent, mainly from sharply lower political advertising than a year earlier.

Feb. 1: AOL Inc. says its ad revenue rose 10 percent in the latest quarter, its third straight quarter of year-over-year growth. A Web pioneer in the '90s, the Internet company has been shifting its focus to content and advertising as demand for its dial-up Internet access service shrinks.

IAC/InterActiveCorp says search revenue rose 35 percent in the latest quarter. Search accounts for more than half of IAC's revenue and includes money from ads at Ask.com and other sites.

Feb. 2: Viacom Inc. says advertising at its TV networks declined 3 percent.

The New York Times Co. says companywide advertising revenue declined 7 percent. At the company's news business, digital ad revenue grew 5 percent, partly offsetting an 8 percent drop in print ad revenue. That drop was smaller than what the company saw in the third quarter, but larger than the first half of 2011.

Feb. 7: Walt Disney Co. says advertising revenue at ESPN and broadcast network ABC was flat.

McClatchy Co. says advertising revenue declined nearly 6 percent from a year ago, an improvement from a drop of about 10 percent during the first nine months of the year. However, ad revenue in January was down about 8 percent from the same month in 2011.

Feb. 8: Time Warner Inc. says ad revenue at its cable TV channels grew 2 percent, held back by an NBA lockout, which delayed the start of the pro basketball season. Although the company says fan enthusiasm has returned in the current quarter, some advertisers have already shifted their money elsewhere.

News Corp. says growth in its television business resulted partly from stronger ad revenue at the Fox television network, though that was offset partly by declines in political ad revenue at company-owned local TV stations.

TV-station owner Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. reports lower earnings because of a sharp drop in political ad spending in a non-election year. Automotive ad spending jumped 12 percent for the quarter, while grocery and medical ad spending also increased. The biggest drops came in services, media, telecommunications and home products.

Tuesday: Marketing and corporate communications company Omnicom Group Inc. says revenue rose 7 percent to $3.85 billion in the latest quarter. U.S. revenue rose 5 percent, while international revenue grew 10 percent.

Coming up:

Wednesday: Comcast Corp., CBS Corp.

Feb. 24: The Washington Post Co., Interpublic Group of Cos.

March 1: WPP Group PLC

By Salon Staff

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