Commentary:Media for a New World
There are still several independently owned daily and weekly newspapers across the country. Repealing the death tax would enable family-owned properties to stay that way, rather than forcing another sellout to a large corporate entity. In this day of mergers and acquisitions by these huge corporations, the idea of keeping media properties in a family should make sense. It has nothing to do with buying ads; it has everything to do with keeping vital community newspapers alive.
Hasn't network prime-time TV viewing lost substantial viewership over the years, equal to or greater than the circulation numbers of newspapers? If diminishing readership/viewership is the ONLY measure of a medium's value, why not take the same shot at TV? The answer, of course, is money and effectiveness. An agency makes much more money by producing broadcast spots than it does creating a print ad. It makes it easier to automatically recommend television as a primary part of a buy. It always amazes me the way many agencies seem to take a similar strategy with every advertiser.
The reason media planners need to advertise in newspapers, even though readership may be falling, is ROI. Agencies and advertisers who spend a significant percentage of budgets in newspapers have realized that the credibility factor and results do matter, especially in a tougher economy. Have you seen figures in the past from the Direct Marketing Association that indicate that "per dollar spent," newspapers generate the highest average dollar return? The problem is, younger media planners and buyers tend to avoid newspapers because they're not easy to understand or even work with.
Newspapers are a major brand in their communities, and newspaper websites are some of the most frequently accessed sites anywhere. Whether people want their news in print or online, these affluent, professional, and educated audiences (does anyone desire THIS demographic?) still rely on and respond to print. Of course, I'm not suggesting newspaper as 100% of a budget. But there is a reason why approximately 20% of advertising dollars spent nationally go into national and local newspapers, second only to television now. The reasons are those that have been discovered by advertisers seeking "return on investment" over time, rather than creative awards.
Chuck Boteler is the owner of Newspaper Connection in Frederick, Md., a planning, buying, and consulting agency specializing in effective use of newspaper advertising.