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The Future of National Newspapers

 

The ‘Future of National Newspapers’, hosted by Mediatel sparked some interesting debate around the challenges facing Newspapers & News brands.  In my opinion there were two main areas of interest; the first being the way we talk about newspapers and the second how we measure the strength and power of these titles and brands.

Whilst I cannot deny that the circulations of the printed papers are in decline – does this really herald the end of physical newspapers?  The answer for me is no – let’s not forget that we still have 11 National Daily Paid For newspapers and that they still sell over 7.3 million copies per day. These are huge numbers. The print market is not the only medium to be impacted from the increased media choice that new technology and digital brings. For example, if we consider TV, 10 years ago a spot in Coronation Street delivered around 22 ratings and since then we have seen this audience drop by around 30%.

Printed newspapers are impacted by a number of factors; the rising printing costs, loss of cover price revenue and falling ad revenues.  Becoming platform agnostic is the right move for news brands but the challenge is the monetisation of this. There is no doubt that digital will not offer the same revenues that newspapers have enjoyed through the combination of cover price and ad revenue.

It’s crucial that as an industry we invest in print measurement tools that demonstrate how print content is now being consumed. NRS PADD starts on this journey but without Tablet and Mobile included, we still only have half the story.

We also need to look at the trading model. Is it still right to stick with the traditional SCC model or do the newspapers need to move to more meaningful metrics – taking their lead from the myriad of digital options? It’s clear that news brands won’t all survive in all platforms, unless they can successfully monetise their offering and get clients and agencies to evolve to embrace the unique power that real newspapers can still deliver over and above all other media channels.

Sam Hughes

Head of Press-Activation

 

For more views on the future of newspapers: