The word is out: Print is dead. Really?

Seven out of 10 Canadians read a printed newspaper each week. That does not sound very dead. In addition, 70% of newspaper readers only read printed editions. Newspapers clearly offer audiences valuable content.

The Internet is a wonderful thing, and digital development has aided the growth of many industries, newspapers included. The scoop has moved online.

Newspapers have a new voice. But it is not their only voice; 75% of Canadians read a newspaper each week in print or online.

But back to print … I am saddened and frustrated when I hear the words “print is dead.” I keep waiting for a funeral that never happens.

Yes, readership and readers are changing. Initially we thought in-depth readership would move online, but that has not been the case.

It turns out headline reading happens online, as does content sharing, while printed editions serve readers more detail and context via a wholly different experience than can be gained on a screen. Readers spend 20% more time reading printed newspapers than reading online.

Newspapers, printed and digital, have readers. So where are the advertisers? A Toronto entertainment newspaper closed this year, not because its print readership had declined; it was a popular newspaper among the millennial crowd. The publisher announced it had no advertisers.

How do we as an industry demonstrate and communicate our value? We live in a world that appears to value the commoditisation of everything, including advertising. This seems contradictory when placed beside the current mantra of “personalise” everything with one-to-one communication.

Commoditise and personalise: Are they the same thing, or different things? What voice do advertisers need: a wide net or a single conversation? Perhaps both.

There has to be a link between the content the newspaper produces, the relationship it endeavours to have with its readers, and the value that bond brings to advertisers wanting to impact readers’ purchase patterns.

The consumer’s journey in what has been termed the “path to purchase” is a complex and generally lengthy process. I would say that in today’s marketing environment, it is the journey that matters most; the purchase is the outcome of that process.

Reaching the consumer, communicating, and often interacting with him or her along that journey has more power today to influence the final purchase choice than ever before. And yet the system seems to focus most on the last click to purchase or the cash register ringing through.

Newspapers must demonstrate the importance of their products and the role they play in consumer psychology relating to moulding attitudes and influencing purchase behaviour. Counting readers is no longer enough; eyeballs are everywhere and they are cheap.

Data can drive marketing decisions, but what data is the “right” data? And most importantly, what voice are newspapers using to promote their products?

Print is not dead. Newspapers are not dead.

NADbank collects audience, path-to-purchase, and engagement data. It paints the following picture of newspapers:

  • Read by three in four Canadians each week.

  • 70% of readers only read printed editions.

  • The most credible media source for adults of all ages.

  • Curated content that is easy to consume in print and online.

  • Provides advertisers with an information-based context as well as an environment for entertainment for products and services.

  • Provides a printed format that is a relaxing experience, where all content is consumed and integrated in a personal environment and at the pace and invitation of the reader.

  • Provides online editions that offer immediacy and an unlimited source for further information and dialogue with the advertiser totally under the reader’s control.

If the customer sees five to six advertisements in the few days before making a final purchase decision, newspapers are the ideal place for those messages.

Newspapers are not dead, but perhaps they need to talk louder than they have been in order to be heard above the din of the digital dust storm.