Ad Wars

Digital Challenges for Ad-Financed News Media in the Nordic Countries

Jonas Ohlsson
Ulrika Facht
Read Open Access
The publication can be downloaded with Open Access on the NordPub publishing platform.

Digitalisation has changed how we communicate with one another, how we search for information, how we use media and, not least, how media are financed. This report focuses on media financing, specifically the portion of financing that comes from advertisers. Global companies such as Google and Facebook are increasingly chal¬lenging domestic media companies’ position in their national advertising markets. The growing influence of foreign advertising platforms is an expression of a more far-reaching transformation that encompasses both audience and advertisers and is being propelled by technological developments in the media area.

This book presents an analysis of how the digitalisation of the advertising market has impacted the business model of Nordic news media companies. As the competition for the advertising investments has been increasing, many media companies have been forced to see their ad revenues decline, in some cases dramatically. Is the financing model that has supported Nordic commercial news jour¬nalism for at least 150 years breaking up? Or are there differences between the Nordic countries that mean the situation is different in different places and in different media?

Ad Wars builds on a rich empirical dataset from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, which includes both industry statistics and interviews with a large number of actors on and around the Nordic advertising markets. The study has been commissioned and financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Norwegian Ministry of Culture. The data collection and the analysis have been conducted by Jonas Ohlsson and Ulrika Facht at Nordicom



Executive Summary

1. Introduction

1.1 Various perspectives on the development of the advertising market
1.2 The study’s constraints, data and limitations
1.3 Outline of the report

2. Advertising’s Digital Transformation

2.1 Digitalisation is changing the rules of play
2.2 Game-changer 1: New advertising platforms
2.3 Game-changer 2: New consumer behaviours
2.4 Game-changer 3: New advertising solutions
2.5 Game-changer 4: New advertiser behaviours
2.6 Game-changer 5: New infrastructures for distributing advertising
2.7 Summary and conclusions

3. The Nordic Advertising Markets

3.1 The importance of advertising in different media systems
3.2 Advertising investments lag behind GNP
3.3 Large differences in digital advertising sales
3.4 Summary and conclusions

4. The Nordic News Media Companies’ Position in the Advertising Market, 2011–2016

4.1 Denmark

4.1.1 The digital advertising market
4.1.2 The newspaper market
4.1.3 The broadcast media market
4.1.4 Independent news sites
4.1.5 Conclusions

4.2 Finland

4.2.1 The digital advertising market
4.2.2 The newspaper market
4.2.3 The broadcast media market
4.2.4 Independent news sites
4.2.5 Conclusions

4.3 Iceland

4.3.1 The Icelandic advertising market
4.3.2 The Icelandic media market
4.3.3 Media companies’ market position and economic development
4.3.4 Conclusions

4.4 Norway

4.4.1 The digital advertising market
4.4.2 The newspaper market
4.4.3 The broadcast media market
4.4.4 Independent news sites
4.4.5 Conclusions

4.5 Sweden

4.5.1 The digital advertising market
4.5.2 The newspaper market
4.5.3 The broadcast media market
4.5.4 Independent news sites
4.5.5 Conclusions

4.6 Summary and conclusions

4.6.1 The digital advertising markets
4.6.2 The newspaper markets
4.6.3 Commercial TV markets
4.6.4 The commercial radio markets
4.6.5 The markets for independent news sites
4.6.6 Some concluding comments

5. Concluding discussion

5.1 Similarities and differences between the Nordic countries
5.2 Similarities and differences between different forms of media
5.3 Similarities and differences between different types of media companies
5.4 Strategic considerations
5.5 Political considerations


Appendix 1.
IRM’s Calculation of the Advertising Market’s Turnover

Appendix 2.
Media in the Nordic Countries

Appendix 3.
Studies of the Nordic Advertising Market

Appendix 4.
Regulation of Advertising in the Media

Book cover: Ad Wars


ISBN print
Series: Nordic Media Trends