Gemstone will examine 90 top African American newspapers in 65 markets and 27 states within an audit planned for a spring 2005 release. In addition, readership studies will be conducted for individual newspaper markets as well as the African American market as a whole, via interviews with more than 13,000 African Americans, including an in-depth analysis of consumer spending and readership data.
Several weeks ago, Gemstone announced a similar effort for the Hispanic newspaper market.
While African American newspapers have a rich history in this country, they are often considered an afterthought by many advertisers and agencies due to inconsistent measurement, Gemstone said.
"It's hard to make print recommendations to clients without that type of data," said Ethnic Print Media Group vice president Trevor Hansen.
An early look at Gemstone's audit indicated that African Americans may not be reached as effectively through traditional media as some planners believe.
Based on preliminary data achieved through 2,000 phone surveys, 85 percent of respondents who read African American newspapers said that they do not receive a daily newspaper in the home.
Broadcast may not yield the same impact on this target either, said Hansen. "For that personal relationship, making a brand invitation, broadcast is more of a shotgun approach for this market."
"Print gets into the house," he added. "It goes grass roots."
Besides confirming circulation vitality, Hansen believes that the readership profile component of this audit will provide advertisers some compelling insights into the demographics of this market, including age, income, and spending patterns in categories such as automotive, health care, and travel.
According to Hansen, audiences of these papers should hold particular appeal to the health care industry, given the many unique health concerns of African Americans. "We are trying to make the pitch to [direct to consumer], pharmaceuticals, etc., that we can deliver a very viable market," he said.
According to Gemstone, there are 38 million African Americans, representing 12.3 percent of the U.S. population and earning an annual income of more than $656 billion. Between 1990 and 2000, this population grew almost 16 percent, nearly triple the growth rate of the Caucasian population.
Gemstone's Ethnic Print Media Group represents 250 African American newspapers.