Are reports on the death of newspapers greatly exaggerated?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from MarketingCharts, a Watershed Publishing publication providing up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers.
While print newspaper ad spending has been plummeting, the same can’t be said for the print audience.
A World Press Trends survey released earlier this year indicated that print newspaper circulation was down just 2.4 percent in 2015 in North America, while the decline of print newspaper ad spending was three times larger (-7.2 percent). On a global basis, although print newspaper ad spend fell 7.5 percent, circulation increased a solid 4.9 percent.
In the U.S., print remains the preferred platform for newspaper consumption, according to recently released figures from Nielsen Scarborough. Among monthly newspaper readers, a slight majority (51 percent) read in print exclusively. Including those who read in print and also on other platforms, 81 percent of monthly newspaper readers engaged with the print product. In combination with newspapers’ multi-platform reach, that means that about 56 percent of the U.S. adult population reads print newspapers each month.
By contrast, only one-fifth (19 percent) of the monthly newspaper audience eschews print in favor of mobile or web access only.
The Nielsen analysts note that newspaper audiences have traditionally been more affluent and older than non-newspaper readers, but that the advent of digital media has brought a younger reader. As such, 38 percent of digital newspaper readers are in the 18 to 34 bracket, compared to 25 percent of the print newspaper audience. Nielsen analysts note that digital readers “represent an even more affluent and educated segment of readers.”
Overall, younger readers now account for a greater percentage of newspaper readers than previous decades, showing that the newspaper industry’s adoption of digital distribution is paying off. Millennials (21 to 34) make up 25 percent of the U.S. population and now represent 24 percent of the total monthly newspaper readership.
A Wall Street Journal article from 2015 noted that retail circulars account for about a fifth of newspaper advertising revenue. The article found that, due to the shrinking of newspaper readership and the inherent costs, retailers were looking to reduce circular use or more efficiently target them to readers, but digital alternatives (banner and search ads, e-mails, etc.) weren’t as effective in luring shoppers.
- Half of Newspaper Readers Stick Exclusively to Print – MarketingCharts
- Newspapers Deliver Across the Ages – Nielsen
- Global Newspaper Circulation and Advertising Trends in 2015 – MarketingCharts
- US Media Audience Demographics – MarketingCharts
- Retailers Can’t Shake the Circular Habit – The Wall Street Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will print circulars likely be retail’s primary consumer outreach method for many years ahead? What does digital advertising accomplish that print can’t and vice versa? How should stores balance digital versus print investments?