As the Independent announced the closure of its print proposition, a mere 10 days later Trinity Mirror launched their new title, New Day, the first national newspaper launched in the UK in over 30 years. As a print planner and buyer, ever-conscious of the slow, but inevitable, decline in print readership – I was pleasantly surprised to read (online – obviously) about the launch of the new print title.
Both the death and birth of these publications are reactions to the same problem – how can publishers best monetise their journalism? Journalism is already a pretty tough gig – one that is guaranteed bad press (the irony), sometimes with just cause, such as the News of the World phone hacking scandal. However on the other side of the coin, we can’t underestimate the value and power of independent journalism in a democratic society. Did you know it was a regional correspondent at the Times that brought the Rotherham Enquiry to the attention of both the public and the Houses of Parliament?
With a questionable long-term future for print journalism, this begs the question, is there a place for a new newspaper, that will engage the digitally-inclined millennials, or will journalism inevitably succumb to the digital age, and live solely online?
Digital migration of journalism raises another issue, with a hot (and unavoidable) topic in the media press being the proliferation of ad-blockers across both desktop and mobile devices – stopping ads from appearing on publisher websites. The scale of this issue, according to an IAB study, estimates 20% of UK web browsers are using ad-blockers. This is most prevalent amongst young males, following Apple’s iOS9 update in September of last year, authorising the use of ad-blockers on their handsets. On the contrary, the same IAB study says 61% of UK web users prefer to view ads than pay for content. So, web browsers want up-to-date content from the industry’s top journalists, for free, but don’t want to see ads… Seems sustainable…
In recent months we’ve seen the publishers fighting back, with the New York Times this week trialling an ad-blocker blocker (ad-blocker inception), where the site detects ad-blocker app extensions present in the user’s browser and blocks the content, in its place leaving the following polite nod to the cost of journalism:
The best things aren’t free. You currently have an ad-blocker installed. Advertising helps us fund our journalism. To continue to enjoy the Times, please support us in one of the following ways.
This isn’t the first publisher we’ve seen fighting blocker with blocker – City AM trialled a similar format back in October, inviting users to switch off their ad-blocker to view City AM content. 21% of those users with ad-blockers activated, switched them off to view City AM content – bringing overall ad-blocker activated traffic to the City AM website from 22% to 15%.
In an age of ever-evolving technology, it’s important and reassuring to see news brands moving with the times, honing their digital propositions, and fighting back against threats such as ad-blockers. Whilst the long-term future of print may be in question, it’s not going to budge any time soon.
Dominic Mills (Ex Publisher of Haymarket and Editor of Campaign) wrote recently about the cover lines of magazines being detrimental to sales, and I’d have to agree that the salacious, personal ‘bullying’ and hyperbole of headlines is often off-putting. The societal need for self-loathing and desperation for self-improvement in equal measures is well represented on many mainstream magazine front covers- it’s a damming statement for society that the biggest selling titles tend to cover horror stories you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemies!
However, the need to shout is a consequence of cluttered and declining market. Who wants ordinary?
In April the Advertising Association and WARC released a report showing the advertising industry, as a whole, was in rude health with UK spend up 5.8% to £18.6bn.
National News brands and magazines were the only losers with print ad spend in steep decline, rescued only by the increase in digital income.
The problem newspapers and magazines face is the perception that they remain platforms that their names allude to; paper and print. In reality, consumption of those platforms are evenly spread across print and digital, and the platforms must work hard to be seen as news brands and content platforms.
In the news brand market the Sun and Times have limited their shift to digital due to the paywalls, but the likes of the Telegraph, Mail, Mirror, Guardian and Independent have seen huge shifts of reach from print to digital and, as such, their commercial structure has shifted also.
However there’s still a place for print. The recent UK elections demonstrated the power of press and the importance of the platforms as outlets for news, opinion….and bias!
Whilst the newspaper still saw a mixed bag of declining circulation or a period of stabilisation (probably worse than expected results?) their role in a democratic society should not be underestimated.
Daily Mirror, May 8th 2015. Staying true to its core!
For news brands, we should never underestimate the importance of these platforms for news distribution, opinion and information. In a content rich world, newspapers often remain the key platform to which society turns for knowledge.
In terms of magazines, several titles still return healthy circulation and readership figures. From TV Choice, to Glamour, Radio Times and Good Housekeeping, circulations for several titles are still in the hundreds of thousands.
We have several clients in the magazine market and we continue to give the channel due consideration for all clients. The change we have instigated is a shift of budget away from print to digital, but also from generic display advertising to more creative, more integrated ideas around content, native, inserts and competitions. Ultimately, using the titles to their strengths.
Magazines are a highly trusted medium and referred to for inspiration and ideas. Integrating with content and being part of that inspiration is one common tactic whether that’s online or in print.
They offer significant dwell time in a relatively uncluttered environment which means greater engagement.
The declining circulations also mean titles have become introspective, focusing on their customers, understanding their desires, needs and motivation and providing better content and better opportunities for advertisers. That makes them a compelling partner for us and our clients.
Magazine circulations will continue to decline and more consumers will shift to digital platforms but with more engaging and connecting content, magazines should remain on every client’s eye line.
As Sue Todd, Chief Executive of Magnetic, the magazine marketing agency stated, ‘Magazine media is growing in power and influence as consumers demand more compelling content which inspires ideas and helps them make choices in an ever more cluttered world’.
At Boutique we like to think of ourselves as thought leaders. We stay ahead of the game, meaning our clients do too. As such, we regularly produce reports and thought pieces to keep you up to date with the happenings of the media world.
The emergence of digital has led to significant decreases in National Press circulation figures, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead and gone. The following report looks at the current National Press market, and highlights how and why it’s changing.
Click the link below to see the full report, and let us know what you think by tweeting @BoutiqueMC!