OMG! We still like our printed newspapers! LOL?

“Despite the continuing shift from print to online media over the past several years, most Americans still like to read the newspaper away from their computers.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of American Adults say they prefer reading a printed version of the newspaper, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Twenty-eight percent (28%) like reading the online version of their preferred paper instead.”

Source: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/april_2012/66_prefer_reading_print_newspaper_to_online_version

That’s the word from the latest media survey in the United States on whether and how Americans like to read their newspapers.

Data from Canada appears to reflect an even better picture of printed news readership.

NADbank (Newspaper Audience Databank Inc.) released its mid-year readership results in March 2012 and found that nearly eight in 10 Canadians read a daily newspaper each week. Readership for the six largest markets grew slightly over the past six months both for print and Web site products.

Print readership continues to grow at about 2% a year, NADbank said. Web site readership is growing faster, 4% from December 2010 to June 2011. As of June 2011, 9.1 million adults read a printed edition, 2.9 million at the Web site for a total of 9.7 million readers or 77% of the adult population in those markets.

You can read more here: http://nadbank.com/en/study/readership

At the same time, ad revenues at U.S. newspapers fell again in 2011, according to Newspaper Association of America statistics released March 14, 2012. The industry posted $23.9 billion in ad revenues, down 7.3 percent from 2010.

Of the total, $3.2 billion came from online sales, up 6.8 percent. “But the segment, viewed as a critical revenue generator, still only represents a sliver of overall sales and the growth within the sector slowed considerably from the 11 percent uptick it enjoyed in 2010,” said an NNA story.

In Canada, in April 2012, Postmedia Network reported its second quarter results for a net loss of over $11 million, and revenue that sits 7.6 per cent below where it did in the same period last year.

A release from Postmedia said “that the $16.4 million decline in revenue can primarily be attributed to a 10 per cent decline in print advertising revenue, with the national category seeing the largest declines. Digital ad revenue – upon which many news organizations’ future revenue hopes are hinging – rose a mere $100,000, or 0.5 per cent from the same quarter last year. That said, Postmedia says that they saw an increase in local digital ad revenue, but that it was offset in a decrease in national revenue in the same quarter.”

Advertising across all media and platforms — traditional and non — has fallen off the cliff over the past months. Steve Ladurantaye, the Globe and Mail’s media beat reporter, told me Saturday at the Canadian Association of Journalists conference in Toronto that there has been a 40 per cent drop in advertising revenue for online and traditional media platforms.

So as print readership remains steady, ad revenues are drying up.

The next question is, what does all of this say about readership vs. revenues and the future of printed newspapers?

That’s another blog entry, but clearly the public still enjoys printed matter, in spite of the rush by metropolitan newspapers to experiment with mobile and online delivery.

My theory is that as newspapers try out these new delivery modes, so are their advertisers.

I play a Scrabble-like game on my smartphone. Every time the screen refreshes, an ad pops up for about three seconds, then disappears exactly at the point when it becomes annoying. You can pay a fee to make those ads disappear forever.

This is but one tiny example, a single drop in an ocean, of how start-up apps are beginning to gain a foothold among advertisers. It’s interesting, exciting and aimed at the right demographic. Who knows what big companies like banks, grocery stores and car manufacturers are working on at this minute to answer the call of how people use media in all its forms?

But far from shutting down presses, based on the likes of readers and the above-mentioned statistics, publishers should begin innovating in print again, to find a way to leverage online and show the world the magic of the “newspaper experience.”

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