Newspapers appeal to strong, growing audience

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John F. Sturm
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

With football practice in full swing, newspapers have taken a tip from America’s gridiron greats: It’s critical to play a strong offense. Instead of letting others do all the talking about our business, newspapers are telling their story in a big way, with new research and a series of advertisements that speak to the strength of newspaper Web sites and the enduring reach of our print products, which continue to attract nearly 105 million readers every day.

The facts are strongly on our side, and we have a great story to tell about the powerful audience newspapers attract across multiple platforms.

Newspapers continue to build their audiences online. Against old concerns that new digital media threaten “traditional media” such as newspapers, the latest study of Internet use by Nielsen Online showed that newspaper Web sites capture a whopping 70 million visitors each month, a valuable consumer audience that relies on their trusted newspaper brand for news and perspective no other medium can match.

But newspapers’ success isn’t limited to the digital space—recent news reports described a new study from Borrell Associates that predicts a return to growth in newspaper advertising next year, and many commentators have written about the relative strength that smaller community newspapers have shown throughout the recession.

Wall Street also took note when a number of big newspaper companies indicated they’re beginning to see signs of recovery in advertising spending.

One common link between these trends is that consumer spending remains an important driver of the economy. With that in mind, I’m especially heartened by initial results of a new MORI Research survey, part of a series titled “American Consumer Insights.” This research provides renewed proof of newspaper advertising’s power to drive consumers to take action.

The survey found that 82 percent of adults took action as a result of newspaper advertising—anything from clipping a coupon and making a purchase to visiting Web sites to learn more. That cause-and-effect relationship will provide an important foundation for our medium’s recovery as advertisers look to unlock the value found in newspaper advertising.

The data also reveal that other media trailed well behind newspapers as consumers’ primary medium for checking advertising. The closest competitor—the Internet—trailed newspapers by 20 percentage points (41 percent vs. 21 percent). More comprehensive data will be available in early fall once a full analysis is completed, but initial highlights include:

--Nearly six in 10 adults (59 percent) identify newspapers as the medium they use to help plan shopping or make purchase decisions.

--73 percent of adults regularly or occasionally read newspaper inserts.

--82 percent have been spurred to action by a newspaper insert in the past month.

To further leverage the tremendous power of newspaper advertising, NAA has released a series of ads about the value of newspapers. One of the most popular ads describes engaged newspaper readers as “Action Figures” to showcase how retailers can harness the power of newspaper advertising to drive consumers to action and spur shoppers to buy.

As the possibilities of recovery start to capture the attention of companies that want to reach a valuable consumer audience, it’s clear that newspapers large and small are extremely well positioned to harness the power of their print and digital platforms to build a brighter future.

John F. Sturm is president and chief executive officer of the Newspaper Association of America in Arlington, Va.; Web site www.naa.org.

Last updated: 11:05 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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