BANGKOK: Growing usage of digital media has expanded the audience for newspaper content, but increasing reader engagement remains a major challenge for publishers, a new survey has said.

The annual World Press Trends survey, from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), includes data from more than 70 countries, accounting for more than 90% of the global industry's value.

It found that while more than half of the digital population visited newspaper websites in 2012, newspapers were only a small part of total internet consumption. They represented just 7% of visits, 1.3% of time spent, and 0.9% of total pages visited.

Overall, more than half the world's adult population read a daily newspaper – 2.5bn in print, more than 600m in digital form – with circulation and advertising performance varying widely by region.

In total, the newspaper industry generated more than $200bn of revenue annually.

"Even if paid circulation declines, newspapers reach a vast number of readers – print, online and mobile – and the latest trends show that advertising engagement in print keeps performing well and improves in many countries," said Vincent Peyrègne, CEO of WAN-IFRA, as he presented the report at the World Newspaper Congress in Bangkok.

While newspaper advertising revenues declined 2% globally in 2012, this fall was concentrated in developed markets.

Australia and New Zealand were worst hit as revenues dropped 8.3%, followed by North America (-7.6%), eastern Europe (-5.6%) and western Europe (-3.4%).

Developing markets, however, registered some significant increases, particularly Latin America, where revenues were up 9.1%. More modest rises were recorded for Asia (+3.6%) and the Middle East and North Africa (+2.3%).

Mobile and tablets are fast becoming the medium of choice for many news consumers, accounting for 20% of pageviews in markets where data is available.

Research in the US, Germany and France suggested that news engagement via tablets, as measured by time spent with news content, was equal to that of the printed newspaper.

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