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Newspaper's Secret Appeal, the Advertising


eMarketer reported that more than 70 million U.S. consumers visited newspaper Websites in June 2009, giving the category an active reach of 35.89 percent, according to the latest market study by Nielsen Netview.

"The newspaper audience continues to expand as publishers aggressively capitalize on their investments in digital properties, adding robust features and launching new products to attract a highly valuable consumer audience,” said John F. Sturm, president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America (NAA).

Because of changes in methodology, Nielsen's figures for June 2009 may not be directly comparable to data from previous years. All the same, Editor & Publisher reported some dramatic gains and losses in time spent at particular newspaper Websites.

Time spent at The New York Times site, for example, fell by nearly 50 percent from June 2008 to June 2009. People spent more time at the sites of the Chicago Tribune and USA TODAY and at Boston.com, by comparison.

The NAA reported that newspaper online advertising revenues fell 13.4 percent in Q1 2009 compared with the previous year. That is much better, however, than the combined drop of 28.3 percent that newspapers saw in print plus online revenues in the same period.

Regardless of the doom and gloom, some are optimistic. Borrell Associates predicts newspaper advertising will be down this year, followed by a 2.4 percenet rebound in 2010. The firm projects further single-digit increases over the next several years.

The biggest growth will be in local print, which Borrell forecasts will hit $10.1 billion in 2014, a 13.4 percent increase over this year.

The NAA and MORI Research results offer puzzling insight -- and it's nothing to do with News. Their study found that newspapers were most likely the primary medium for checking advertising; about 41 percent of those polled. That put them 20 percentage points ahead of the Web.

When you consider the few who still buy newspapers, perhaps this actually makes sense.

The market study also found the following:

- 59 percent of adults who read newspapers said they used them to help plan shopping or make purchase decisions.

- 82 percent reported taking action as a result of newspaper advertising, including clipping a coupon (61%), buying something (50%), visiting Websites to learn more (33%), trying something for the first time (27%), and 73% regularly or occasionally "read" newspaper inserts.

Update: MediaWeek's editorial offers a different perspective of the NAA spin -- "Newspapers have been getting more of their revenue online, but it hasn't been nearly enough to offset the ad sales that have gravitated away from their print editions."

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