Print newspaper circulations continued to rise in Asia and decline in mature markets in the West, while digital advances have increased the audience for newspaper content as never before, the annual World Press Trends survey of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) showed.
But the growth on digital platforms is not being followed by consequent growth in advertising revenues. An analysis of the World Press Trends data shows that news sites enjoy high readership, but the level of reader engagement is low.
“The news industry’s future is about how citizens engage and participate in their society,” said Vincent Peyrègne, CEO of WAN-IFRA, presenting the annual survey to a gathering of more than 1 500 publishers, chief editors and other delegates at the combined World Newspaper Congress, World Editors Forum and World Advertising Forum in Bangkok, Thailand.
“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,” he said.
“Newspaper professionals understand, more than ever, the benefits offered by the digital world to improve the quality of their conversation with communities, identify new territories where they can expand their role, help reduce the complexity of the world, and increase the trust of their audience.”
Peyrègne addressed the basic challenge to the news business: “The fragmentation of the market is a threat for our business model, but an opportunity to come back to our core mission and values: empowering free citizens, by providing them with the news and information necessary to make informed decisions in society,” he said. “Our role at WAN-IFRA is to facilitate the rethinking process of our value chain. The latest figures from World Press Trends show that the battle is ours to be won.”
The World Press Trends survey includes accurate data from more than 70 countries, accounting for more than 90 % of the global industry’s value. The data is compiled through an enormous undertaking by dozens of national newspaper and news media associations and generous support from global data suppliers: Zenith Optimedia, IPSOS, ComScore and the ITU.
The data is compiled in an annual report supplied to all WAN-IFRA members, and is also available through annual subscription to the World Press Trends interactive database.
The data showed:
– More than half the world’s adult population read a daily newspaper: 2.5 billion in print, more than 600 million in digital form.
– The newspaper industry generates more than US$200 billion of revenue annually.
– Both circulation and advertising performance vary widely by region.
– Newspaper circulation declined only -0.9% globally in 2012 from a year earlier, as rising circulations in Asia offset circulation losses elsewhere. Circulation declined -2.2 per cent globally between 2008 and 2012, with the steepest declines in Europe.
Circulation declined over one year by -6.6 % in North America, -5.3 per cent in western Europe, -8.2 per cent in eastern Europe, and -1.4% in the Middle East and North Africa. It increased +1.2% in Asia, +3.5% in Australia and New Zealand, and +0.1% in Latin America.
Circulation declined over five years by -13% in North America, -0.8% in Latin America, -24.8% in western Europe, and -27.4% in eastern Europe. Circulation increased over five years in Asia (+9.8%), the Middle East and North Africa (+10.5%) and Australia and New Zealand (+1.0%).
– Newspaper advertising revenues declined -2% globally in 2012 from a year earlier, and -22% since 2008. The five-year decline was driven primarily by newspaper advertising declines in the United States, the world’s largest advertising market. Print advertising fell -42% in the United States over five years, accounting for nearly three-quarters of the global loss in newspaper advertising.
The decline in US newspaper advertising revenues reflects the US publishers’ traditionally high dependence on classified advertising. An estimated 80% of classified is now digital. Though much of it is among ‘pure players’ that are owned by publishers, that revenue is not reflected in industry statistics.
Advertising revenues declined over one year by -7.6% in North America, -3.4%t in western Europe, -5.6% in eastern Europe, and -8.3% in Australia and New Zealand. It rose +9.1% in Latin America, +3.6% in Asia, and +2.3% in the Middle East and North Africa.
Advertising revenues declined over five years by -42.1 % in North America, -23.3 % in western Europe, -30.2% in eastern Europe, -22.7% in the Middle East and North Africa, and -24.9% in Australia and New Zealand. It increased +37.6% in Latin America and +6.2% in Asia.
The survey also found:
– The biggest challenge for publishers continues to be how to increase the engagement of audiences on digital platforms. While more than half of the digital population visit newspaper websites, newspapers are a small part of total internet consumption, representing only 7 per cent of visits, only 1.3% of time spent, and only 0.9 per cent of total pages visited.
– Paid content is a growing revenue stream. According to the Alliance of Audited Media, nearly half of US publishers now adopt some form of paid content model. Forty percent are using a metered model, one-third charge for premium content, 17% require payment for any access, and 10% use some other model.
– Mobile and tablets are rapidly becoming a medium of choice for many news consumers, accounting for 20% of page views in markets where data is available. Research in the United States, Germany and France suggest that news engagement via tablet, as measured by time spent with news content, is equal to that of the printed newspaper.
– Newspapers are actively developing revenues from non-traditional sources. In the United States, 27% of newspaper company revenues now come from non-traditional sources: 11% from digital, 8% from new revenue from other sources (service to clients in addition to advertising), and 8% from non-publishing revenue (e-commerce).
– There is a distinct difference in the performance of single copy and subscription sales. In markets where data is available, single copy sales have declined -26%over the last four years, compared to a decline of -8% in subscription sales. The packaging of print/digital subscriptions is becoming increasingly successful.
– For the first time, World Press Trends includes definitive readership data on the Middle East, thanks to WAN-IFRA’s partnership with IPSOS. Readership varies enormously, ranging from 5 % of people in Iraq to 70% in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
The Middle East data shows a direct correlation between newspaper success and their appeal to female readers. As readership levels rise, so too does the ratio of female to male readers. In Iraq, one third of readers are women, compared to Kuwait where more women read newspapers than men. WAN-IFRA has previously reported that appealing to female readers is a key determinant in market success over the long term.
Larry Kilman is deputy CEO, executive director, communications and public affairs at WAN-IFRA in Paris.
WAN-IFRA, the global organisation for newspapers and news publishers, is a leading provider of industry research and analysis that identifies, analyses and publicises all important breakthroughs and opportunities that can benefit news media all over the world. World Press Trends, the leading source of newspaper data and trends globally, has been published by WAN-IFRA since 1989.
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