New Newsworks survey reveals impressive print and online figures – but can they be turned into ads?

My old pal Rufus Olins (left) has taken over as boss of UK newspaper marketing body Newsworks (geddit?) and not for Rufus the dreary business of managing (or promoting) decline.

He’s launched a new survey, NRS PADD (print and digital data) which provides combined print and online readership figures for national newspaper brands, revealing 70 per cent weekly adult reach across print and online, equating to 35.5m people. On a daily basis the score is 44 per cent (22.2m) people with men slightly ahead of women. Young people (15-34) score nearly as highly as their older brethren although this is probably due to heavyweight online consumption.

Olins says “This research explodes a number of myths that surround the newspaper industry. It is great to see that newspapers are reaching a growing audience across all generations, that people are engaging with the content across all platforms – and that it continues to set the nation’s agenda.

“You need look no further than Andy Murray’s dramatic US Open victory for evidence of this. Murray won in the very early hours of the morning UK time, several hours after newspapers’ printed editions were published – yet broadcasters turned to newsbrands’ online coverage, images and analysis to review the story. This is a timely illustration of how newsbrands are relied on for their content irrespective of their format.”

Well, maybe. We know that some newspaper online brands are big players in not just the UK but the global market; most notably the Guardian and Mail Online. But it’s also indisputable that sales of posh papers in the UK are in steep decline (their tabloid counterparts are proving more resilient). Turning this online presence into money as print ad revenues decline is the problem although Mail Online (a much more tabloid product than its print big brother) claims to have turned a profit for the first time this year. The Guardian website is still well short, but the Guardian newspaper has never made a profit, ever.

Olins’ big task is create some kind of template that persuades advertisers to think of print and online versions of the same title as a package, one they want to buy as part of the same campaign. But that means, among other things, producing two separate but complementary creative strands, which is a big ask in these cash-strapped days.

The likeliest outcome is surely (as we’ve said a number of times before) online-only versions of posh papers on weekdays, maybe excepting Mondays because of weekend sport.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.