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The news publishing industry may be getting squeezed by the pandemic economy, but for Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO Randall Rothenberg, it set itself up for failure long ago, by leaning too heavily on advertiser revenue.

"When the United States became a national marketplace in the mid to late 19th century, that marketplace was so big, so vast and laden with opportunity that it just made much more economic sense to premise your revenues and growth as a publisher on advertising," Rothenberg said on the Digiday Podcast.

Even the New York Times, which is riding a high of more than 6 million subscribers, is foreseeing a drop in ad revenue of up to 55% in the second quarter, leading its head of advertising to say layoffs are likely.

Rothenberg said that historically, that shortsightedness extended to magazines and even television -- media products for which, in Europe, consumers paid premiums.

His big takeaway: " You need to diversify your revenue streams. Period, full stop."

One bright spot for Rothenberg is the growth of central authority in the industry.

"I'm really hopeful now, more than I have been ever in the past 15 years," Rothenberg said. "It has been extraordinarily difficult to get the various segments, players, companies and executives across the vast and unruly marketing and media supply chain to agree on the basic best practices and technical standards that must undergird any industry supply chain."


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