Research proves media brands must supplement — not supplant — print with digital for advertising mix


A string of new research is identifying the new value proposition that newspaper companies need to champion when articulating the power of print.

Gone are the days when we can assume that we are the only game in town, or that digital is a presumptuous upstart converting print dollars to digital pennies and ruining us all.

Rather, we need to demonstrate how print is still a viable and essential part of any advertisers’ media mix – not based on emotion and defensiveness, but on the data.

There is now a raft of insights that talk to the new value of print as a partner to digital rather than an alternative. Here are the highlights.

Print is the most trusted medium: The data shows 58% of people in Australia trust newspaper advertising, according to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages Report from September 2013. This is above television (54%) and magazines (50%) and a long distance ahead of digital advertising of all kinds, including ads served in search engine results (32%), online video ads (31%), and ads in social networks (27%).

Our readership will surprise you: The quarterly newspaper audience report from The Newspaper Works in Australia, based on the new Enhanced Media Metrics Australia (EMMA)  data metric, finds 86% of people read a newspaper every month. That’s an audience of 15 million, which is not bad in a country with a population of 22.68 million. 

The Q2 report reveals 9.2 million people read a national or metro newspaper, 3 million read a regional, and 4.8 million read a community newspaper in their local area.

It also flags that the data disputes the idea that young people don’t read newspapers. Eight in 10 under age 30 read a newspaper every month, with career success being a stronger driver of newspaper reading than age.

Print builds brands: Second quarter research from The Newspaper Works reveals 57% of readers feel more positive about stores that advertise in their local newspaper than a non-advertiser, while local newspaper readers were three times more likely to keep details of a newspaper ad than catalogues or flyers. 

Our own research in real estate at News Corp Australia revealed 83% of surveyed respondents said their real estate section helped them understand which agents were active in their area, informing their choice of agent when the time came to decide.

Print targets new customers: The Know the Locals research conducted this year by News Corp Australia revealed 72% of respondents said they went into stores to browse after seeing a great sales ad in their local paper.

The second quarter research from The Newspaper Works reveals newspaper readers are more active shoppers than non-readers, with 64% buying clothing in the past month compared to 61% of non readers, 82% shopping at a local shopping centre (compared to 76%), and 56% buying hardware (compared to 47%). 

Print triggers action and drives online search: The Nielsen Global Trust report indicated 66% of people always/sometimes take action from ads in newspapers.

The second quarter report revealed views of a print advertisement for a national grocery chain were six times more likely to try or buy the advertised product than the retail average. 

Meanwhile, the Know the Locals research from News Corp reveals 67% of respondents visited an advertiser Web site after seeing an ad in their local newspaper.

Print offers value: An international  study from the Netherlands – based on the experiences of 10 brands, including H&M, IKEA, and Vodafone – found print advertising has a better return on investment to online media and even better than radio or TV. The GfK survey found, on average, advertisers earn back their print advertising investment in the campaign period along with 20% extra.

It’s about mix, not alternatives: Back in September of last year, I wrote about research from our digital sibling that revealed a combination of print and online could do what digital alone could not – cut through the brand clutter for real estate agents and reach passive buyers.

The Media Maximiser Research conducted by RP Data (part of the Core Logic group in the United States) also indicated that properties that were marketed in a combination of print and digital achieved a higher price and lower time on market. 

In the new world, the best way to advertise will not be about backing the winner in the battle to the death of traditional versus new media, but having a bet both ways.