What we’ll see in 2013 in digital media

Jeff Roberts

1) It gets worse at the New York Times Co. before it gets better: The NYT’s ad revenues keep declining and its Boston properties are struggling. And while circulation revenues are up, this could be a temporary blip from higher print prices rather than a swell of digital income. Meanwhile, the company has a cash hoard thanks to the sale of non-core assets — but its newly arrived British CEO will face pressure from family insiders to distribute that cash as dividends rather than invest in journalism. On the bright side, the Grey Lady is well positioned for the long term thanks to a world-beating brand and signs the online ad market is starting to come around (see below). But 2013 will be rough.

2) Innovative ads take off as brands move dollars from cable to online: The disconnect between audience and ad spending is more glaring than ever. Even as floods of people move to consume media online, brands continue to shovel the lion’s share of money into high-priced TV commercials. This will start to change because of a growing faith in the power of online “native advertising,” which will cause brands to invest in more clever, creative material. Likewise, more marketing executives will get religion over new ad data tools that make it easier to measure an ad campaign’s ROI.

3) BuzzFeed will earn a Pulitzer prize: Yes, you read that right. The goofy viral site has not-so-quietly become a big-time media machine that is investing heavily in serious political, feature and long-form journalism. Just as the upstart Huffington Post bagged a Pulitzer in 2012, BuzzFeed will start getting some real respect this year.