Amazon as the Killer of the Advertising

A beautiful piece from Jack Shafer for Reuters about the death of the Alt Weekly contains this nugget:

Mostly gone, too, is record-company advertising. Before that business was disrupted, the labels would give record stores — remember them? — big bags of “co-op” money to advertise the new releases, and even reissues! Video stores — remember them? — were big advertisers, too. Amazon has helped to clean out whole categories of retailing that once advertised in alt-weeklies, such as electronics, books, music and cameras. Big-box stores have displaced many of the indie retailers that long provided advertising backbone. And while Hollywood still places ads, it’s nothing compared to the heyday. To give you a sense of how precipitous the drop, the smallest edition Washington City Paper printed in 2006 contained 112 pages, with 128-pagers and 136-pagers being the most common. In 2012, the page counts ordinarily ranged between 56 and 72.

As a guy who deals with (if not directly sales) advertising, I've thought many times about the impact of Amazon on local businesses. I hadn't really considered how that would eventually affect publications and yes, broadcasters. Blockbuster is a good example, but mom and pop video stores (which had really already been killed by the time I got into radio) were even better advertisers. In my market, there is no blockbuster. No video rental store, in fact, to advertise. How many other categories can you think of that don't even exist anymore?

I'm not one for propping up declining industries or slowing or halting progress because of the turmoil it creates, but it is noteworthy that so many industries have risen and fallen even in my lifetime. There are many things we gain in our new world. Let us not forget what we lose.