The “other” audience: don't count them out


Newspapers attract many audiences, all of which must be attended to. Core audiences form the backbone for content and distribution, but we must also engage tomorrow's audience and the audience that may need “different” attention. In the not so distant past, printed newspapers attracted a mass audience. Like all media, newspaper audiences continue to fragment as the long tail media landscape becomes a reality in sync with the technology that fuels its growth.

One-size-fits-all no longer brings today's adults to a newspaper. The new media landscape means catering to the niche audiences and requires a new approach to content development and distribution. Using technology, timing, and distribution, newspapers can continue to be all things to all people, and then bring audiences together to provide advertisers with a “faux mass” audience, while providing the opportunity to target niche brands effectively.

Advertisers want audiences; newspapers use appealing and engaging content to build audiences to sell to advertisers. What are the citizens of today looking for? Of course, that depends on who “they” are. Today, few people will plough through “stuff” they are not interested in finding the nuggets they want; they expect content specific to their needs and interests to be delivered directly to them at the moment they want it.

Canada's major cities boast six daily newspapers, each one a brand. Those newspapers are owned by four, not six news organisations. The two companies that publish two newspapers target very different audiences in each newspaper. Experience demonstrated the best route to audience growth is through separate “brands,” not brand expansion. The latter can be muddled and send core readers away before — and, in many cases without — attracting the desired “new” group of readers.

The “appealing audience” are the Boomers and older readers, who represent 39% of adult 18+ population, 41% of weekly readers and nearly half (47%) of daily print readers (last month's blog). However, the other 60% of adults do read, but more selectively, and they are consumers, as well as readers.

The highlighted numbers show the key readership strengths by target group. Transit users are a particularly attractive group — they are more likely to read each week than Boomers! They are a bit of a cross-section of the population, but are over-represented by 18- to 34-year-olds with higher educations who are mobile and building their careers. They are in their acquisitive years and quite different from the Boomers.

Looking at all newspapers together can be misleading, as each newspaper is a brand with a unique profile of readers. Just looking at free and paid dailies demonstrates the value of targeting.

Free dailies are a unique platform within the newspaper model; readership is concentrated to the morning commute, and there is virtually no Web site readership. They are a print-only model at this time. The growth of tablets may change that, particularly when wireless services become more widely available in city centres.

While 35- to 49-year-olds are difficult to reach in any medium, they do read newspapers — just not as often as other adults. By the end of the week, they read not much differently than adults in general. However, they are more likely to read paid dailies online.

Paid dailies remain the dominant newspapers in the marketplace, yet young adults can be found in greater concentration in free daily audiences. While making up about 30% of the population, they represent about 40% of free dailies' weekly audience. Also, these newspapers have demonstrated, in Canada, to be a different way to bring and keep young, mobile adults in the newspaper reading habit. They serve a specific need at a moment in time.

As for the consumption habits of this younger audience, they differ from those of the Boomer generation. These young adults are building their careers and lifestyles. They are more likely to have, or plan to buy, a mobile phone and they spend more money each month on fees; they buy more lottery tickets and gift cards than older adults, and those buying cars are looking at either used cars or leasing and can afford very different vehicles compared to Boomers. Not surprisingly, they are more likely to make online purchases than older adults.

As we learn more about how different target groups want to access news and information it will become easier for newspapers and their advertisers to develop unique products and messages by platform for the long tail readers. Everyone is interested in news and entertainment. Newspapers will continue to aggregate both content and audiences, just differently, to provide advertisers with a “mass” audience.

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