Newspaper circulation is falling. We all know that. The decline may not be absolutely terminal, but any industry with year on year figures like these, knows it is in trouble.

 

As newspapers hemorrhage their readers, a couple of unavoidable questions present themselves.

 

First, while we know where the readers are headed – online, where the same content they previously paid for is now mostly free and fits into a digital lifestyle – we don’t yet know how that content is going to be paid for by digital revenue streams. We have looked at this point before, and will do so again, but our focus today is on our second question. Namely, why aren’t the advertising costs for print newsbrands dropping as quickly as the circulation figures? Surely fewer readers should result in a lower cost of entry for brands?

 

Newsbrands are still paying for their journalism (AKA, content creation) by squeezing their traditional revenue streams. I still buy papers on the weekend and always feel something of a mug every time I hand over so much money for my daily of choice, knowing full well that I am subsidising those who, much more sensibly, choose to read the same content for free online. Likewise newsbrands are massively over charging brands for advertising space to cover the cost of running digital operations that are not paying for themselves.

 

My choice sets me back a couple of quid each weekend. The choice (and associated responsibility) of a brand is far more significant, as they are overspending on a vastly larger scale and reaching a smaller and smaller audience each year for the privilege. In fact we would go further and say that media rates and spend on print advertising with newsbrands (Welsh in particular but the point can be made generally) is astronomical given the dwindling audiences.

 

It comes down to a reliance on tradition and a lack of empirical rationale. Brands have advertised in newspapers for generations, ergo, brands must continue advertise in newspapers because that is what brands do – regardless of outcome.

 

Well, times change. Brands simply have to get smarter about how they spend their marketing budget or risk wasting it. We don’t live in a monolithic media landscape any more and as a result an innovative approach to media planning is absolutely imperative if a brand is going to survive and thrive. There are so many ways a brand can reach its target audience now – not least by taking full advantage of a mixed media approach, from the full range of OOH to the almost limitless digital possibilities, that by not doing so brand managers are (to an emotive media planner on a Monday morning at least) neglecting their responsibilities. Innovate or reach for an advertising agency who have the knowledge and experience in doing so.