Newspapers: the Answer is Not Print or Digital; it's Integration!

At the third annual Mega-Conference, a collaborative effort between Local Media Association, Inland Press Association and SNPA, it was clear that becoming digital agencies for local advertisers is a priority for newspaper publishers but print is still very important to their business. The print audience is still solid, but it is clear that it will continue to shift with more digital choices. In fact, industry experts believe most publishers will have as much as 50% of their digital content consumed via mobile devices by 2015.

One such expert—Gordon Borrell—expects print ad revenues to stabilize or grow slightly at most papers, a trend he says will continue through 2017. But the results will be uneven, with small and mid-sized papers having the best growth prospects and metros still declining in the range of 4-6%. Digital ad growth for the papers he surveys, which are mostly small and mid-sized, will be 30% in 2013.

In his opinion, newspaper organizations will only succeed to the extent that they target two growing categories of digital advertising: video (growing 30% next year) and targeted display (growing 105%). In contrast, those who stick with run-of-site banners and classified or directory listings might see low single-digit growth next year at best. Tablet Ad

Furthermore, Borrell sees digital services like reputation management, search engine optimization, app development and social media management as hot growth areas. His takeaway for small and mid-sized papers is that, if they are selling what the advertisers are buying most, they can expect 15% plus growth and a 15-20% share of digital in their local markets. A Pew Research Center report covered a survey of 40 newspapers in early 2012 and showed they were losing $7 for every $1 gained in digital revenue.

However, there was good news comes from the newspapers looking at new revenue streams:

  1. Some are becoming digital service provider where advertisers can come for services like web design or search engine optimization.
  2. Others are specializing and localization has become a favorite trend among newspapers that see this as an avenue to offer information only they can provide.
  3. Reputation management of local businesses is another offering generating significant interest.

In a recent survey by InfoTrends, marketers confirmed that are planning to shift more dollars away from print and into digital media. In the next two years, print will still make up 30% of marketing spend but it is expected to decline by 6.2%. Online marketing is expected to increase 4.9% and mobile will experience the highest growth, with expenditures increasing by 8.8% (from 10.2 to 12%). Websites, social media and mobile apps are the top digital content to which customers are directed. According to Steve Adoniou, Director of InfoTrends' Consulting Service, "Print is not disappearing, but its use is declining and its role is changing."

In "What's next for print in an increasingly mobile world," the author notes that return on investment for print is actually increasing for marketers the world over. Marketers have moved away from the broad, general outbound marketing tactics of the past to a more targeted, data-driven and totally integrated approach. As a result, marketers have made print work harder by integrating it with their digital efforts.

This is reinforced by a survey by Oracle, which revealed that 70% of marketers currently use print to direct audiences to digital content. In addition, nearly half of marketers (46%) believe print is "vital" to driving interest in digital mobile content and campaigns. In an age of information overload, print has the power to cut through the clutter, but adding digital and mobile can attract many more eyeballs and offer an altogether more powerful proposition.

In the Newspaper Association of America's 2011 "How America Shops and Spends" survey, two-thirds (66%) of the total sample of newspaper digital users responded to ads on computer, smartphone or table platforms in the previous 30 days and results are similar across groups, including the desirable younger demographic.

Past 30-Day Response to Newspaper Digital Ads

66%        Net any

56%        Net became aware of product, service, sale, needed item

47%        Net looked for more information by clicks, search, asking others

32%        Net visited store online or in person

30%        Net bought, decided to buy, where to buy

14%        Referred ad to someone else.

Past 30-Day Response to Newspaper Mobile Ads

Smartphone       Tablet

59%                        61%        Net any

46%                        50%        Net became aware of product, service, sale, needed item

40%                        43%        Net looked for more information by clicks, search, asking others

20%                        26%        Net visited store online or in person

27%                        33%        Net bought, decided to buy, where to buy

11%                        17%        Referred ad to someone else

An example of how well the integration of print and digital works is Tourism Australia. The advertiser got four times its investment in media value from a partnership with Fairfax Media on a campaign targeting New Zealand tourists.

Fairfax Media developed a four-phase Amazing Australia campaign, which combined advertising and co-created and user-generated content across multiple platforms: Sunday Star-Times, Stuff.co.nz, Escape, NZ House and Garden NZ Life & Leisure and Cuisine.

Readers were prompted to vote for their favorite travel experience as part of a competition to win their own Amazing Australia outing. Engagement far exceeded the target 20,000 entries and reached a total of more than 76,000 entries. 

Brand Metrics Research commissioned by Fairfax Media measured and reported on awareness and engagement levels. Each element delivered impressive results on its own but, when respondents were exposed to multiple elements, the effects were magnified. Key messages were more readily absorbed by readers: people who had seen the campaign in print and online agreed that Australia "offers a wide range of diverse experiences for travelers" (up 6.1%) and "has a lot to do for travelers outside the main cities" (up 11.6%) versus those who had not been exposed to the campaign.

For those who bought or read the newspaper, 87% of the target market saw the Amazing Australia booklet; 69% said as a result of reading the booklet, they were more likely to think about traveling outside Australia's main centers.

Here's another case study on the successful integration of print and digital in advertising campaigns. In 2012, the Integrated Solutions and National Automotive team at the Toronto Star had the opportunity to partner with Nissan Canada and its agencies (OMD and TBWA) to develop an innovative advertising program.

Common themes were developed for content, consistent technology was used for augmented reality and timing was coordinated across newspapers and out-of-home to achieve maximum impact. In the Toronto Star, the program included:

  • Four-week, pre-launch program with content integration, augmented reality, promotional contest and multi-platform media support (print, online, email, mobile).
  • Launch day domination in the Toronto Star.
  • First-ever die-cut wrap on all paid copies.
  • Domination of all sections on launch day with front-of-section ads and "floating" DPS ad units in all five sections. Ad content was Layar-enabled to give readers the opportunity to interact with the printed page and the brand in a new way.

The result was award-winning. The launch campaign for the 2013 Nissan Altima won Best in Show in Canada's 2012 Media Innovation Awards this past November. Over eight million readers viewed the campaign in one day, which led to more than 6,500 page views at a 42% click-through rate. Test drives for the Nissan Altima increased by 65% as a result of the interactive.

So the ultimate answer to the question is that newspapers should focus on both print and digital to deliver maximum results for advertisers. Print will become an increasingly used, highly-strategic tool for many marketers who can integrate it with digital and mobile channels to bring both tangibility and credibility to their future campaigns.

As a marketer, have you integrated print and digital advertising and, if so, how did this impact your return on investment? If you are a publisher, how do you make it easy for your advertisers to create integrated campaigns across channels?


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