3 reasons newspaper subscriptions matter


Subscribers to the printed newspaper are unique as newspaper readers go. They not only pay for their newspaper, they go out of their way to spend time with it every day.

These habitual readers are the most likely to trust and value the content they consume every day. And that value is transferred to the advertisers associated with the content. 

Subscribers are loyal, valuable, and spend more time than other readers reading printed newspapers.

  1. Loyalty: The most important reason to pay attention to subscribers is their loyalty. Loyalty is not the same as a frequent purchaser given rewards to engage with your product or service. Loyalty is given to a brand by its customer because the brand has earned it. Loyalty is faithfulness and adherence to something.

    For newspaper brands, this has real value and can be monetised.

    One in two Canadian newspaper readers tell us they purchase their newspaper through a paid subscription and, depending on the newspaper, at least 75% of them read five out of five weekday issues of that newspaper each week.

    Depending on which statistics you wish to quote, it costs about five times more to attract a new reader than maintain your current audience.

  2. A unique and valuable audience: Subscribers are not a cross-section of the general population; they represent the cream of consumers. And, of course, the subscriber base will vary by newspaper title.

    In Toronto, there are six daily newspapers, each with a unique audience and a unique loyal audience. As a group, subscribers are an attractive group of consumers. The value of their savings and investments is an average of C$315,000 compared to C$190,000 for the general population.

    In addition, 70% are married or living with a partner compared to 62% of all adults. They have household incomes 10% higher than that of the average Canadian household.

    The list could go on. These Canadians have a higher disposable income and are the audience that advertisers are looking for. They show up every day in the same place at the same time: your newspaper.

  3. Readers who pay for their newspapers spend more time reading them than those who do not pay: The average reader spends about 43 minutes per day reading a printed newspaper. Subscribers spend nearly 50 minutes a day reading printed newspapers.

    Interestingly, those who purchase their copy from a newsstand or box (single-copy sale) actually spend the most time reading: nearly an hour. However, less than one-third of those readers read five out of five issues of the newspaper each week. They are solid readers but not your loyal audience.

    Interestingly, print subscribers not only love their newspapers and spend more time with them, they also spend the least time on the Internet each day — a lowly 98 minutes, compared to 120 minutes for adults generally.

So what does loyalty mean for newspapers? Loyalty translates into value for the readers. A loyal audience is one that relies on the credibility and reliability of the content they consume.

Subscribers, the most regular and faithful readers, are more likely to rely on daily newspapers to get their news, as well as consider them a source for information about “life” and, most importantly for advertisers, for news and information about the products and services they see in their newspapers.

Subscribers are more likely than anyone else to spend on newspapers for news and information, as well as for advertising!

It bears repeating what I have posted in many of my blogs: Our research shows that Canadians find newspapers to be the most credible and comprehensive of all media. They also rely on, and act on, information they see in the ads in their newspapers.

Many newspapers are putting up “paywalls.” This sounds like a very high obstacle that requires a giant leap to get over, and it sounds as though it is something in place to keep readers out. This is unhelpful industry “jargon.”

We should call them what they really are: digital subscriptions. And then we will treat those subscribers/readers with the same respect that we treat those valuable print subscribers.

And then we can move on from counting eyeballs and CPMs to monetising a valuable resource – our loyal newspaper readers.

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