With the closing of 128 Volvo, it got me thinking about the wholesale changes in the world of dealership newspaper advertising. If you look back at the archives of the Boston Globe from earlier this century, you would find a substantial Sunday Automotive section – dozens of pages – chock full of colorful ads as well as hundreds and hundreds of “mug” ads (which were text ads of a few lines advertising specific used cars). 128 Volvo ran a lot of mug ads. Even weekday papers had multiple pages of automotive advertising. I know that we used to spend a ton of money each week buying full page ads in the Sunday Globe. It was a huge aspect of our business.
Contrast this with the Sunday Globe from a few days ago – if it wasn’t for one local group, the Automotive section wouldn’t have had any ads at all. Even on a good weekend, there are maybe 2 larger groups which still run print ads. There are no mug ads anymore, since the only effective way to shop for a used car anymore is online.
This topic isn’t breaking news of course, because the demise of newspaper advertising had been going on for more than a decade now. But to someone in the business, it still is a little startling when you see an automotive newspaper section that is an empty shell, or you look back in the archives (online, of course) and see automotive ads in all of their newsprint glory.