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Study finds newspaper readers are engaged, but local papers need to do more on mobile

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Newspapers are still better at engaging audiences than any other form of media, according to a new Newspaper Association of America (NAA) survey conducted by Nielsen, and print newspaper advertising remains effective. With newspaper ad revenue plunging, though, the picture isn’t as rosy as this survey makes it appear — and newspapers can do more, especially when it comes to social networking and mobile.

The NAA-Nielsen study surveyed 5,000 adults on “11 different metrics for engagement, including trust and ethics, how connected media makes people feel, the value or inspiration it adds to life, and the effectiveness of advertising.” On that measure, print and online newspapers came out on top:

NAA Nielsen Cross-Media Engagement Study 1

Advertising in print newspapers and on their websites is also effective. The survey asked respondents about different metrics of advertising effectiveness, like “usually notice ads,” “likely to purchase” and “best place for Black Friday shopping.” The average score across all media was 35 percent, with newspapers a bit higher:

NAA Nielsen Cross-Media Study

The NAA study, however, doesn’t address the fact that newspapers’ ad revenues are plunging. As my colleague Mathew Ingram reported recently, a different NAA survey showed that the U.S. newspaper industry has lost over $40 billion in print ad revenue over the last decade, and while papers’ digital ad sales rose slightly, it wasn’t nearly enough to compensate for the lost ad revenue. By that measure, the fact that audiences find newspaper advertising effective is only a small consolation.

It’s time to do more on mobile

The study suggests that “content publishers of all sorts should move as quickly as possible to connecting with users on mobile devices.” National newspapers are already doing this, with 43 percent of respondents checking a national newspaper on a mobile phone daily. Local papers, however, have a lot to make up in that area:

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 1.44.31 PM

Tablets performed better: “Fully 44 percent of tablet owners said they accessed content from a national newspaper in the last week and 41 percent from a local newspaper, though here, too, social media ranked first (57 percent).”

Luckily, this appears to be an area where newspapers know they have to improve: A December 2012 survey from the Alliance of Audited Media found that 63 percent of newspaper and magazine publishers agree that “tablets are the most important digital channel for their publication’s future.”

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / Ruggiero Scardigno

5 Responses to “Study finds newspaper readers are engaged, but local papers need to do more on mobile”

    • David Thomas

      I politely disagree. With the plethora of “Instant News” there is a greater need for longer form — or maybe I should say traditional form — news journalism. If it has to be duplicated on the mobile platform, fine. Twitter to me is just a content selection vehicle — not unlike the way feedly works for me on a desktop. What is still new is the immediate access to a wide variety of perspectives on a topic. Instant news has been around since Roman times.