Simple formula can help publishers develop annual ad revenue forecast

As the year rapidly comes to a close, many publishers, GM’s and ad directors at community newspapers are putting the final touches on their 2011 ad revenue and budget forecasts.  And undertaking the forecasting endeavor can be a challenging, even frustrating process at times.

Over the years, I have developed a quick and easy template that helps develop ad revenue goals which then flow easily into an overall annual ad revenue and budget forecast.

Using the following formula to double-check or create an advertising revenue and budget forecast will save lots of time and effort while motivating sales teams and serving as a compass when navigating a tough economic environment.

Ad revenue goals, whether monthly and/or quarterly and/or annually, are all developed at the same time that annual ad revenue and budget goals are developed. In other words, 12 monthly 2011 individual monthly ad revenue goals for each territory or account list actually flow into the development of the total 2011 ad revenue goal (department wide) and ad budget.

For best results, a forecast is developed for every month in a given sales territory or account list. Additional items could be added or substituted (such as web page hosting revenue). Ad revenue goal revisions should and will take place over the course of the year due to market changes that may occur.

Ideally, each month is initially developed by the salesperson and subsequently reviewed and jointly agreed upon by salesperson and manager. The participation of the sales staff in this process helps motivate the staff, inasmuch as their input is included as part of setting goals for their territory or account list. Here's the formula:

Sample January 2011 Ad Goal Forecast for Downtown Territory

2010 January Actual ROP Ad Revenue:  $00,000

Anticipated '11 Ad Rate Increase + (plus) X%

2011 January Calendar Changes + (gain) Sunday. – (lose) Friday

Color, Commercial Printing, Online Revenue + (plus) $$$$

(e.g. Additional Non-ROP Ad Revenue)

January Special Sections

+ Community Resource Guide, Dollar Days + (plus) $$$$

Declines/Out of Business/Political – (minus) $$$$

Opportunities/New Businesses and/or Accounts + (plus) $$$$

Territory Growth Factor


2011 January Revenue Goal $00,000

By Chuck Nau

Chuck Nau, of Murray & Nau, Inc., is a publishing consultant with more than 25 years of experience, having served the Seattle Times, Knight-Ridder Newspapers and the Chicago Tribune in a number of management, marketing, media and sales capacities.

Nau’s work as a publishing consultant includes clients who are newspapers, publishing associations and niche publications. His practice enables him to put his wide range of publishing experience to work for publishers, sales management teams and senior managers on both a day to day and special project basis. He has assisted clients as a management consultant, sales trainer, facilitator and coach/mentor in advertising, circulation and marketing areas.

In addition to his consulting practice, Nau has spoken to and conducted workshops for a number of national publishing groups, state press associations, and newspaper organizations throughout North America. He has written a series of columns covering topics in advertising, management, marketing, and sales which have appeared in various newspaper industry and press association publications.