National Newspapers: Reading Beyond the Headlines
For the last decade or so, headlines and figures around the state of national newspapers have been increasingly bleak. Financial losses and cutbacks, dwindling circulations and reduced advertising revenues have dominated the coverage.
It’s undeniable that newspapers continue to operate in a challenging climate. But the outlook is a lot brighter than recent history would suggest.
The latest figures from the Advertising Association and WARC revealed that print display advertising spend rose by 1% in Q1 – the first quarter-on-quarter rise in newspaper ad spend since 2010. This has been partly driven by a number of brands reassessing their digital spend following concerns around brand safety and data misuse.
And while print circulation figures may be falling, the overall reach of newsbrands (including desktops and mobiles) is higher than ever – which cross-platform PAMCO data will help to highlight. Just last week, the Telegraph announced that it had reached 3 million registered users. Broadsheet rival The Times reached the 3.75 million mark at the end of June.
An increase in users is having a positive impact on revenues too. The Guardian now receive regular financial support from 570,000 members, with a further 375,000 readers giving one-off contributions. This has helped the Guardian Media Group cut its losses by two thirds, with a view to breaking even by 2019.
It’s clear that newsbrands remain incredibly popular and relevant, particularly in times of political uncertainty. Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer found a sharp increase in the public’s trust in traditional media in 2018, with trust in social media moving in the opposite direction.
Newsbrands have earned that trust with many examples of bold, public interest stories over the past year. The Guardian was praised for its persistent reporting on the Windrush scandal, ultimately leading to the resignation of former Home Secretary Amber Rudd. The Times exposed the Oxfam sex abuse scandal, resulting in a wide scale investigation into the UK charity aid sector. The Observer was highly influential in revealing the misuse of data by Cambridge Analytica and Facebook during the US presidential election, with the fallout from that crisis still ongoing.
National newspapers are as important as ever. It’s no wonder that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced a proposal to improve the funding of high quality public interest journalism, paid for by introducing a levy on large tech companies.
Well-resourced and financially viable national newspapers are crucial to a functioning democracy. They’re also good news for advertisers: brain science research finds that ads in quality premium environments are more effective than those on social media and general websites.
That’s not to say social media and digital display ads aren’t important – their targeting and reporting capabilities remain essential. But national newsbrands offer advertisers a high-reaching, trustworthy and premium environment that shouldn’t be overlooked. Far from the doom and gloom, newsbrands are becoming more relevant than ever, and brands should make the most of it.