Newspapers have a lot to offer advertisers. The valuable content and platforms they provide are the place to start.

The next step is to employ a variety of data sources in the planning process; data is the key to delivering successful media campaigns with advertiser partners.

More than three out of four Canadians read a print edition newspaper each week. True as that is, it does not tell advertisers how and where to reach their audience.

Newspapers still reach a mass audience, but their greatest asset is their unique ability to provide content across many platforms and to engage different audiences via those platforms throughout the day.

Targeting and balancing messages across platforms — at the right moment in time — results in effective communication with customers, enhances the reader experience, and increases sales.

More than one in three Canadians read newspaper content online every week. Technology has played a huge role in enabling newspapers and their readers to better understand each other’s needs.

Newspapers have capitalised on their ability to publish and target their content across a number of platforms, and readers have jumped on the convenience and easier access to the news content they love.

Newspapers readers are not all the same; advertisers want to speak with their customers when and where they are reading. Reach of newspapers across age groups has remained stable, but there is a growing difference in how audiences consume their content.

In the average week, 37% of adults ages 18 to 49 read newspaper content online, compared to boomers and older adults (25%), who continue to prefer their printed editions.

In just three years, between 2010 and 2013, the shift in how readers access digital newspaper content (over the week) has radically changed.

In 2010, pre-tablets, 80% of digital readers accessed newspapers using their personal computers. Now that number is 49%. Mobile telephones and smartphones were available, but the real growth in mobile readership came with the introduction of tablets.

Not surprisingly, younger adults are more likely to read content on their mobile devices. More messages targeted to youth on smartphones and tablets will hit their mark. Boomers and older adults are the primary PC users, but tablets will soon overtake PCs as the everyday digital device.

The pace of the shift to mobile is startling. The introduction of tablets and the exponential growth and quality of smartphone technology have had a huge impact on consumer behaviour. Today nearly 50% of Canadians own smartphones and more than 20% own tablets.

Personal computer sales are declining as tablet growth continues. The increase in tablet penetration, technology, and the number of apps and mobile-designed Web sites have resulted in fewer readers using their PC to gain access to their newspapers.

The chart below shows the growth in tablet usage for daily access to Web sites (+43%) and through apps (+28%).

Newspaper readership is no longer a breakfast activity. Today, up-to-the-minute newspaper content is available throughout the day. Readers have learned they can access their newspaper in different formats throughout the day. They have also learned the different formats can provide different types of editorial content.

News “breaks” throughout the day, but the in-depth review of yesterday’s headlines in print is still the most popular way to consume newspaper content, and readers get their daily fix in the morning. The digital content is read throughout the day with a peak in readership during the evening.

Now that consumers want and can get news content anytime, anywhere, more readers are accessing multiple platforms throughout the day.

Combine digital analytics data with audience research to target ads to audiences who will be interested in specific content. By using all data sources available to newspapers and advertisers, we see a layered and more complete picture of who, where, and when people read and shop.

Targeting is a balancing act. Messages can be targeted throughout the day across both print and digital platforms, depending on readership patterns and purchase behaviour. Audience (survey) data available in databases such as NADbank should be used to bring depth and “colour” to “Big Data.”

The term Big Data can mean many things, but all newspapers and advertisers have access to a plethora of digital and (server) census data.

Big Data is simply the aggregation and interpretation of computer data. It provides a great deal of rich information about how faceless computers journey through the Internet. Combining this with audience data enriches the information by providing a face to digital patterns.

GPS data, for example, can highlight locations as consumers move throughout their day. Cookies indicate what sites are accessed, how often, and if there are useful patterns to capitalise on, regarding search or online purchase behaviour.

Advertisers have detailed data on seasonal patterns of purchase behaviour. The Weather Channel links search and purchase behaviour for their advertisers and has found that the timing and motivation to purchase products varies depending on the weather and interestingly can differ by city.

What else can newspapers do to promote their own content while providing opportunities for their advertiser partners?

  • Direct access from newspaper content to advertisers’ Web sites provides convenience for readers.

  • Keeping the reader inside the newspaper app or Web site during interaction with the advertisers – much like going from article to article within the newspaper – will maintain stickiness for the newspaper and will enhance the credibility and quality of the relationship in the reader’s eyes between the newspaper brand and the advertiser’s content.

  • Ensure data on readers to both newspaper and advertiser content is easy to access and feedback is in “real-time.”

Technology has changed newspapers and their readers. New devices are a convenience for readers but have provided new opportunities for newspapers to develop more effective partnerships with their advertisers.

Research is changing, perhaps not as fast as technology, but we now have more information on customer and reader behaviour than ever before. Knowledge, not just information, is the currency of the future.

Smart planners bring all the information to the table and know how to use the right pieces to bring media campaigns to life. Sales will follow.