Classified Ad Readership Up 29%

After a three-year decline during the economic good times, classified-ad readership is returning strongly in print and online.

The Media Audit finds 18.92 million people regularly reading newspaper classified ads, a jump to 29% from the 14.68 million who said so a year before. People who read the classifieds occasionally boost the number even higher.

The findings are reported in the latest Media Audit of 85 metropolitan regions surveyed by International Demographics Inc. of Houston.

Robert Jordan, president of International Demographics, said the reason for the jump is pretty simple: It’s the economy. With a lingering recession and massive layoffs in almost every type of industry, there are plenty of people looking for a new job or a better job. And that’s driving an increase in readership for employment classifieds, if not an increase in recruitment advertising.

“What’s really changed is the employment factor. There’s been a lot going on in the economy since 9/11, massive layoffs, job insecurity,” Jordan said.

The findings, which have stayed steady in every market, reverse an at least three-year decline in readership of classifieds studied by The Media Audit. There have been increases in automotive classifieds too but no concrete analysis of real estate so far.

Employment advertising generally accounts for between 40% and 50% of a newspaper’s classified revenue, which is in itself a key part of overall revenues. In major metro markets, employment advertising accounts for between 50% and 60% of all classified revenue.

The employment classified reader’s demographic has also changed. Jordan said there are more higher-income, college-educated people reading classifieds – particularly recruitment advertising – than there has been in a while. The percentage of readers with at least one college degree rose to more than 25% of the total classified audience. Households with annual incomes of more than $50,000 rose from 37.6% to 41.9%.

The numbers of people who visit newspaper’s Web sites for classifieds was also tallied although it’s a recent addition to The Media Audit and can’t be looked at historically.