Truth Is Just Perception

Should Advertisers Really Be Deserting Newspapers?

This is the question raised by the latest credible study on the subject.

A survey conducted by Nielsen among 5000 Americans for The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) shows that newspapers are the most engaging media with consumers. Newspapers (print and online editions) top TV (see table below).

(CC) NAA & Nielsen

(CC) NAA & Nielsen

Newspapers also rank in pole position with regard to the effectiveness of advertising. One wonders why their advertising revenues are falling so sharply. If this study is correct – and there is no reason to think otherwise – the recent changes in the advertising investment mix are not completely relevant.

This study is tricky since it aggregates newspapers’ print and online editions. And, while advertising can be very effective in certain media, it is less valuable if the concerned media are losing their audience as is the case today for newspapers. Still, the collapse of newspapers’ advertising revenues cannot be explained only by these two limitations.

This situation can only remind us of the sentence made famous by John Wanamaker, the great merchant and marketing pioneer of the early twentieth century: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

Are marketers taking a wrong way by neglecting newspapers? Rather, I think that they made a slightly premature decision to take a detour in order to avoid getting into a dead end.

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