Last month, I did a presentation at the New England Newspaper & Press Association (NENPA) Convention in Boston about monetising newspaper audiences.

One of the techniques we use at Nielsen Scarborough to analyse newspaper audiences is segmentation. Segmentation is the process of defining and subdividing a large homogenous market into clearly identifiable segments that have similar needs, wants, or demand characteristics.

The objective of segmentation — in this context — is to identify audiences that match, as precisely as possible, the best customers and prospects for our advertisers and, in so doing, demonstrate the value of the different audiences we deliver.

There are many ways to segment newspaper audiences. One way is by demographics — men versus women, older folks versus younger folks, or adults with children at home versus empty nesters.

Another valuable way to segment audiences is by generational groups — Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the emerging post-Millennial generation, Generation Z.

Category segmentation is another way to look at audiences. Using the automotive category as an example, one might segment new car buyers versus used car buyers, luxury versus economy car buyers, or foreign models versus domestic model buyers.

Understanding the platforms on which people consume news offers insight into audience members.
Understanding the platforms on which people consume news offers insight into audience members.

Recently, we have been looking at newspaper audiences by platform — print, Web site, mobile, and the combinations of these platforms. This was the focus of the NENPA presentation. We segmented the newspaper audience into four groups we called Print Loyalists, Dual Devotees, Digital Dignitaries, and News Omnivores. We’ll define these groups in a minute, but three key findings emerged from this analysis:

  1. Print is resilient. Nearly half (48%) of U.S. adults who access newspaper content in an average month do so exclusively in print.
  2. Audiences of each platform have distinct demographic and consumer behaviour characteristics that can be very valuable for specific advertisers.
  3. The audience that accesses newspaper content across all platforms — the group we named News Omnivores — is the most educated, has the highest income, and is the best employed group among the segments, with off-the-charts indexes for purchasing a variety of products and services. This is a highly valuable group for many types of advertisers.
When it comes to reading the news, Print Loyalists made up nearly half of this sample.
When it comes to reading the news, Print Loyalists made up nearly half of this sample.

Now let’s look at the individual segments. For the NENPA presentation, we looked at newspaper audiences residing in the New England Census Division, which is comprised of adults age 18+ in the six New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Print Loyalists may be a good target market for health-care advertisers, discount retail stores, and advocacy advertisers.
Print Loyalists may be a good target market for health-care advertisers, discount retail stores, and advocacy advertisers.

Our first segment is Print Loyalists. As mentioned earlier, these are adults who access newspaper content exclusively in print and comprise 47% of the New England newspaper audience (versus 48% for the total United States).

As you might expect, this is the oldest segment with an average age of 54. As you might not expect, more than one-third (36%) are under age 49 and 15% are Millennials. Generally, though, Print Loyalists are more likely to be retired, homeowners, and empty nesters.

This audience is a great target for health-care advertisers (hospitals, healthcare professionals, and pharmaceutical companies); discount retail (Walmart, Kmart, Kohl’s, and similar companies); and political and advocacy advertisers (political campaigns, charitable, and issue-oriented organisations).

It also loves newspaper advertising. These people are more likely to say newspapers are superior to other media for providing useful information about bargains, and new products and services. They read the preprints, cut coupons, and use the newspaper to comparison shop.

Dual Devotees may be a good target market for financial services, online retailers, and travel advertisers.
Dual Devotees may be a good target market for financial services, online retailers, and travel advertisers.

We labeled the second segment Dual Devotees. This group accesses newspaper content in print and through one other platform — either Web site or mobile. It comprises 20% of the New England newspaper audience. Dual Devotees are younger than Print Loyalists, with an average age of 48. One quarter (25%) are Millennials. These people have higher household incomes (average is USD$94,000) and are more likely to be college educated.

These audience members are perfect for financial services companies (banks, financial planners, and investment services), the online versions of their favourite retailers, and travel advertisers (such as airlines, hotels, and car rental services). They are more likely to say online advertising is superior to other media for providing useful information about bargains, and new products and services.

Advertisers may want to consider Digital Dignitaries for messaging related to restaurant, online retail, and digital services.
Advertisers may want to consider Digital Dignitaries for messaging related to restaurant, online retail, and digital services.

The third group we called Digital Dignitaries. This group accesses newspaper content exclusively on digital platforms. These people do not touch the printed newspaper and comprise 16% of the New England newspaper audience. Digital Dignitaries are the youngest group overall with an average age under 40. Nearly one-third (32%) are Millennials.

This audience has the second-highest household income among the four segments (average is USD$96,000), it is the second-best educated segment, and it is the most multi-cultural segment.

This audience is a great target for restaurants (QSR, sit-down, and ethnic), online retailers, and digital services (like Amazon and Netflix). And, while 86% of Digital Dignitaries own a smartphone, they don’t like to see advertising on their mobile devices unless it is relevant to their specific interests.

News Omnivores are the wealthiest group, making this audience a valuable target for many advertisers.
News Omnivores are the wealthiest group, making this audience a valuable target for many advertisers.

The fourth and last group we labeled News Omnivores because they consume newspaper content on all three platforms — print, Web site, and mobile. These people comprise 18% of the New England newspaper audience and are the second-youngest group among the four segments with an average age of 43. Nearly half (47%) are age 34 or younger.

This group has the highest household income among the four segments (average is more than USD$110,000), it is the best educated segment, and audience members are most likely to be employed in white-collar occupations.

These audience members are a valuable target for financial services and online services, and they purchase all kinds of technology for their homes and cars. Also, they respond to Internet advertising. Like Dual Devotees, they are more likely to say online advertising is superior to other media for providing useful information about bargains, and new products and services.

Marketers want to target their advertising to people who are most likely to buy their products and services. They also want their messaging to resonate with the right audience.

Newspaper media — whether in print or digital — provide the kinds of audiences advertisers want to reach. Segmentation illuminates the different characteristics of these audiences and demonstrates their value to advertisers.