Research Brief, from the Center for Media Research
As a heads-up on the buzz in the newspaper world, digital publishing advocates at the World Newspaper Advertising Conference & Expo recently posit that newspaper companies must rapidly move their business on-line or risk getting left behind.
However, Gavin O’Reilly, Chief Operating Officer of Dublin-based Independent News & Media, and President of the World Association of Newspapers, said “executives must guard against overreacting to anecdotal information that tends to exaggerate the impact of the internet on newspaper operations.”
Mr. O’Reilly urged the 480 participants from 75 countries to check the facts and reject the myths that are fueling belief that the internet is threatening newspapers.
O’Reilly continued “There is not a shred of empirical evidence, here or in the USA, or in Scandinavia, or the Far East, to confirm that the internet per se is damaging newspaper circulations. Indeed, a recent study by WAN demonstrated that those newspapers with strong web activities were actually the ones that were showing circulation growth.”
According to Vin Crosbie of Borrell Associates, on-line advertising revenues are rising dramatically — they were more than 17 billion dollars in the United States last year, with 4 billion going to newspapers. But on-line media produce 20 to 100 times less revenue per reader than newspapers do, he said. To put it another way, for every print reader lost, newspapers have to replace them with between 20 and 100 website readers to gain the same revenue.
With data showing that the movement of classified advertising from print to on-line was accelerating rapidly worldwide, Jim Chisholm, Strategy Advisor to the World Association of Newspapers, says “We are seeing fantastic growth in on-line classifieds, but it is not enough to make up for the money lost from print classifieds.”
While there is no doubt that newspapers must develop their on-line operations, others see value in building the print franchise. For example, studies in France show that newspapers are far superior to other media in terms of the quality of their audience, the loyalty they demonstrate to the paper, their acceptance of advertising messages and other attributes.
“This is not a French exception…” said Luciano Bosio, Managing Director for Marketing, Research and Strategy for Publiprint.