Murdoch’s NI had little to do with closure of Auto Trader
Last year, John King, Trader Media Group’s then chief executive, when asked about the possible closure of the 38-year-old classified magazine, said “we’re looking at around 12 to 18 months from now.”
King spoke about the possible closure on the back of pre-tax profits plummeting at Trader Media Group from £83.5 to £22.3m in the year ending March 2012.
Trader Media Group today (Tuesday) put out a statement with the usual spin saying it has “completed its transition to an online digital business.”
The final issue of the magazine will be published on 28 June this year- the final hurrah for a magazine which sold 368,000 copies back in 2000 but which has now dwindled to a paltry 27,000 copies.
Yet the story of Auto Trader is not the familiar one of woe which has beset the newspaper and magazine sector in recent years.
Contrary to the majority of the press sector, Auto Trader has managed the transition from print to digital pretty well, picking up the growth in online classified advertising.
In fact, it is the success of the likes of Auto Trader and the listed property website Righmove, which have played a major role in desecrating the business models of regional newspapers.
However, irrespective of the changing media landscape, the axing of a print title is still viewed as a failure and it is worth remembering that closure has prompted 150 job losses at the publisher.
News International-which launched a rival to Auto Trader in the shape of Sunday Times Driving last year-will shed few tears at the demise of Auto Trader, which is 50.3% owned by arch-nemesis Guardian Media Group, publisher of the Guardian.
In fact, many in the industry suggested that News International launched Sunday Times Driving with the intention of killing off Auto Trader.
This has clearly has not been the case, the plate tectonics were shifting long before the launch of Sunday Times Driving, and the me-too product has been nothing more than a small contributory factor at best.