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Home > News & Media > CEO Update > Perfecting the balance between print and digital for newspapers

Perfecting the balance between print and digital for newspapers

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For more from Caroline Little, follow @NAACEO on Twitter.

Caroline H. Little

February 2014 

Over the past year, newspapers have transformed.

We told the world that we were going to evolve, adapt and remain essential. We have done just that. Not only are newspapers still delivering on that promise, they are thriving as innovation and new ideas drive our success – across all platforms.

While much of our recent success has been attributed to digital initiatives, it is very clear to me that our readers need to be reminded of the critical balance that newspapers must strike between print and digital.

The past year marked a significant moment in the transition for the newspaper industry. We improved our products, reconstructed our business models and created new revenue streams. Newspapers have invented new ways to engage with readers.

The beauty of newspapers is that we are there every day of every week of every month with a tremendous product, in print, online and on mobile, to our millions upon millions of eager consumers. When we gather for our annual NAA mediaXchange conference next month in Denver, we will discuss the way forward to better serve our readers. And it’s not only print, only digital or only mobile – it’s the balance among them.

Newspaper audiences are undeniably massive and diverse. Research suggests that our content audience on all platforms each week is larger than the audience over the course of a month for Google, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, and others. While digital news is a growing and emerging market for our companies, we cannot rely solely on it to reach all of the consumers that are seeking news.

Studies reveal the 169 million U.S. adults that read content from newspaper media each week and 144 million of those consumers read a physical copy. It is clear that many of our readers still choose to read the newspaper for many reasons. For some, it is a matter of necessity, like those who take a subway to work with no cell service. For CEOs, executives and businesspeople, the printed paper is part of the daily routine to be prepared for the workday ahead. And for many families, the Sunday newspaper is as necessary as that first cup of coffee.

It is for these reasons, to name merely a few, why newspapers are an invaluable tool and platform for advertisers. A study released in January revealed that 63 percent of adults in North America trust newspaper ads – outpacing every other form of paid advertising, from magazines to television to radio to online. There is a reason why more than 100 advertisers will be at NAA mediaXchange to meet with newspapers, because they understand how a great print ad can lead directly to sales.

It is important for newspapers to sustain a meaningful relationship between the physical and online products that we offer. Our combined assets open the door to new avenues for new revenue streams and new offerings for advertisers.

Newspaper media companies that innovated in this way have witnessed success, with digital-only circulation revenue growing by 275 percent and revenue from bundled subscriptions seeing a six-fold increase. Building on the strength of print ads, newspapers can leverage that trust to advertisers and consumer.

Technology has ignited endless opportunities for our product and industry. Throughout the digital revolution, newspaper media has saturated every format imaginable – from desktop to laptop, mobile to tablet, and now social to app – and our audience numbers have skyrocketed.

The mobile newspaper audience is growing fast and last found that a total of 33 million adults use only mobile devices to access newspaper content. Through the transformation, the perception that newspaper have shed readers is simply not true – in fact, we have more readers than ever who are using new technology to access our content in different ways.

Readers know that when they read newspaper-generated content they are reading the most valuable and trusted source of information. As the consumer desire for trusted, immediate intelligence grows, the role of media and journalists will continue to progress and strengthen our worth.

Nearly three-quarters of adults in this country read newspapers, whether in print or online or both.  The impact of newspapers has not waned and continues to strengthen. The way forward for newspapers in 2014 is maintaining the balance to provide readers the content they need, how they want it.