LONDON: As print advertising revenue leaks away to digital, newspaper publishers are exploring new avenues to bolster income and readerships, including joint ad sales and the launch of a new regional newspaper.
The Financial Times reported that several of the UK's leading newspaper groups are in talks about how they can work together to tackle the decline in print advertising, with a single advertising sales operation mooted as one possible option.
This would make it easier for agencies to buy display advertising space, an idea welcomed by Steve Goodman, managing director of print trading at Group M.
"Potentially this could be a valuable way forward for both sides," he said. "If the newspapers are able to come together and offer attractive packages across all titles that would give us an advantage over buying it piecemeal then we would be very interested."
Currently three groups have been identified as participating in the talks, including the Telegraph Media Group, Trinity Mirror and News UK.
"No stone should be left unturned to find solutions to the problems that afflict our industry," said David Dinsmore, chief operating officer at News UK. "We would be derelict in our duty if we didn't try to make it work."
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If combining such back office functions is one route, not everyone has given up on finding an untapped print niche, despite the recent experiences of Trinity Mirror, whose new national daily, New Day, closed after nine weeks of operation.
Dubbed a "national for the north", 24 hit the streets yesterday. At 40 pages and costing 40 pence, the initial print run was for 30,000 copies with distribution limited to Cumbria, Northumberland, parts of Lancashire and southern Scotland – areas outside major cities where the Metro freesheet has a presence.
"We have a northern slant on national stories," explained David Helliwell, editorial director of publisher CN Group.
"So we will take a northern court case rather than one in Cambridge. We will write about the north-south divide from the perspective of the north, not the south-east."
The latest forecast from the AA/Warc Expenditure Report, which has surveyed publishers each quarter since 1982, expects print ad revenue to decline by 5.9% for national and 5.4% for regional titles this year.
While this would represent an easing from the rates recorded in 2015, it means that, when taken together, newsbrand print will cede its position as the third-largest advertising channel in the UK to mobile this year.
Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff