Newspapers must improve digital offer

11 June 2014
PARIS/TURIN: Newspapers saw a 2% rise in global circulation last year and benefitted from increased digital advertising of 11% but, with print ad revenues falling, they need to raise revenue and user engagement on digital platforms, the latest World Press Trends report has warned.

Compiled by the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the survey was presented to 1,000 publishers and senior newspaper executives at the 66th World Newspaper Congress in Turin, Italy.

It revealed global newspaper revenues held steady at $163bn in 2013, buoyed by circulation and advertising growth in emerging markets, but ongoing declines in mature markets prompted WAN-IFRA to urge publishers to increase their efforts to improve their digital offerings for audiences.

Larry Kilman, secretary general of WAN-IFRA, said that if newspapers did not produce sufficient revenues from digital, then this would not just damage their businesses but also risk weakening democracy itself.

"Unless we crack the revenue issue, and provide sufficient funds so that newspapers can fulfil their societal role, democracy will inevitably be weakened," he said.

Even though digital advertising grew 11% last year – and 47% over five years – it still made up only 7% of all newspaper revenues and a large proportion went to Google and a handful of other media companies.

Another major problem, the report found, was that newspapers accounted for only 6% of total internet visits and 0.8% of page views despite 46% of total digital users visiting newspaper websites.

Kilman welcomed measures the industry has undertaken to improve its digital engagement – such as providing incentives through database marketing and improving site navigation – but called for more exchange of ideas and inspiration.

"There is growing understanding by the public that you get what you pay for, and an increased willingness to pay for newspaper content on digital platforms," he said.

The outlook for print advertising remained unpromising, the report indicated, with overall print advertising declining -6% in 2013 and all regions, apart from Latin America, recording declines in print newspaper advertising.

Print newspaper advertising fell -8.7% in North America, -8.2% in Europe, -3.2% in Asia-Pacific and -1.8% in Middle East and Africa.

Elsewhere, the report found newspapers made up 16.9% of global advertising revenues compared with television's 40.1% share, the internet (20.7%), magazines (7.9%), outdoor (7%), radio (6.9%) and cinema (0.5%).

Data sourced from WAN-IFRA ; additional content by Warc staff
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