Dear advertiser, please come home

April 30, 2009

Nobody likes to be wrong, including the people who run media companies. That’s why you haven’t heard them say things like, “We think the advertising market is recovering!” At a time when every day might bring a fresh descent into financial hell as financial companies and automakers totter, media companies reeling from ad revenue declines are hesitant to say that they’ve hit a bottom.

But consider some of the comments that Viacom executives made during their conference call with Wall Street bean counters this morning to discuss quarterly financial results. Here they are as they appeared in the alerts we sent out on the wire:

  • 08:12 30Apr2009 RTRS-VIACOM INC’S <VIAb.N> CEO SAYS NOT SEEING ANY FURTHER DETERIORATION IN THE ADVERTISING MARKET
  • 08:33 30Apr2009 RTRS-VIACOM INC’S <VIAb.N> CEO SAYS CUSTOMERS ARE STARTING TO FEEL MORE CONFIDENT ABOUT A RECOVERY EMERGING LATER IN THE YEAR AND GOING INTO NEXT YEAR
  • 08:34 30Apr2009 RTRS-VIACOM INC’S <VIAb.N> CEO SAYS “WE’RE FEELING CONSIDERABLY BETTER” THAN TWO OR THREE MONTHS AGO

That sounds suspiciously like optimism. It also fits in with some of the comments that we’ve heard from newspaper publishers such as USA Today owner Gannett Co Inc. Magazine publisher and local TV station owner Meredith Corp had similar thoughts about the ad outlook.

The general story is: We’re still dealing with ad declines when we look forward to the rest of the year, and we’re not saying we’re all that happy about it, but knowing the rate of decline is not worsening is a good sign… if you think about it.

So, what will Rupert Murdoch tell us when News Corp reports its results next week? Murdoch’s recent statements have been pessimistic, but maybe Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman is laying a path for Rupert to tell his employees and investors something they want to hear.

Keep an eye on

  • Peter Chernin. The outgoing News Corp No. 2 might do many things after he splits, but joining Viacom isn’t one of them. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Swine Flu! It might be bad for you, but it sure is good for companies that get rich from you going hog wild over trying to keep your hands clean. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Baltimore Chainsaw Massacre. Welcome to the new, leaner, meaner Baltimore Sun, courtesy of Tribune Co. The Sun’s management calls it a plan for success, not just survival. (Reuters)(The Sun)

(Photo:Reuters)

One comment

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Great piece, what’s the buzz about when this might translate into financial results?

Posted by Alisa | Report as abusive