As Radio and TV Ad Revenue Stalls, Here Comes the Mobile Web

Last Updated Aug 2, 2008 12:25 PM EDT

How about one from radio, one from TV, and one for the mobile web? That's what's available in the grab bag this Friday evening.

CBS reported sharp drops in revenue from its radio network, a ten percent drop in the quarter ending June 30th. The company intends to sell 50 of its 140 radio stations (35.7 percent) as part of a strategic shift toward the Internet an away from traditional media. (Note: BNET is now owned by CBS, as part of its $1.8 billion acquisition of CNET that also closed on June 30th.)

A few years back, magnate Summer Redstone split his media empire in two parts --CBS and Viacom. For Q-2, Viacom reported strong results from some of its holdings (the "Iron Man" and "Indiana Jones" movies and the video game "Rock Band." But the growth in ad revenue at Viacom's domestic cable channels was a paltry one percent, which is indicative of the underlying weakness in the performance of broadcast advertising this year.

Meanwhile, the Verve Wireless "Mobile News Network," which we mentioned earlier this week, has signed up at least 728 newspapers, as well as attracted its second round of $3 million in funding, with the Associated Press as the lead investor. This effort is worth paying attention to, as more newspaper execs discover that they may benefit by jumping straight to mobile now they've so thoroughly missed their Web opportunity.

The reason, of course, is that contextual ads on mobile offer users truly useful information based on where they are at any particular moment -- such as where the nearest laundromat, supermarket, or auto dealer is located. As the transition to mobile devices accelerates in the U.S., online display advertising will face the same pressures that have swept through the newspaper, radio and television industries.

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.