Kim Aiello, executive vice president, ITM Newspaper Media Buying Services, has long been a champion of the newspaper publishing industry with nearly two decades of experience across advertising and media buying.
Rather than lament the death of print, she believes it’s alive and well. Digital publishing hasn’t tarnished its brand.
Aiello spoke with Publishing Insider about where the newspaper industry is headed, how outlets might use both new and established avenues for revenue and why conglomerates can be a good thing.
Publishing Insider: Is print in decline? How might newspapers turn advertising to their advantage?
Kim Aiello: The great news is that since 2017, newspaper subscriptions are on the rise. The latest Nielsen Scarborough study (Dec 2016) found that 169 million U.S. adults, which comprises 70% of the population, read newspapers every month.
Newspapers offer advertisers the opportunity to reach a captivated audience through display ads, full-run or targeted free-standing inserts in their subscriber and Total Market Coverage (TMC) products, as well as digital platforms and high-impact creative units, such as front-page strips, post-it notes and cover wraps.
PI: What are some of the advantages print publishing has over digital?
KA: Print readers are more likely to be focused and to give their undivided attention to content, which leads to greater consumption and elevated awareness of the advertiser’s message. This gives that information serious consideration and positions it as an easy place to reference in the future. The longer shelf life and higher pass-along readership rate give legs to the content and advertising messages.
Print has also gone through an extraordinary verticalization — there are special sections, supplements and publications for every category and market niche. Some examples are back to school guides, special health issues, the NCAA brackets, freshman/orientation and weekly inserts.
Print advertising has greater credibility with readers, as newspapers still have audience trust. The advertiser is welcomed and appreciated for being in a trusted resource. According to the News Media Alliance, fewer than 10% of readers report seeing “fake news” in a newspaper, and readers’ trust of ads came in at 75% for national and 79% for local newspapers.
PI: What are some of the trends emerging in newspaper advertising?
KA: After 17 years buying newspapers, I remain grateful to work closely with every newspaper enterprise in the country. Newspaper print and digital advertising deliver results. Advertisers understand that a multiplatform approach is essential to break through the clutter. Various creative trends, such as unique ad sizes, book ends, stair step, front-cover strips, consecutive color pages, win readers’ interest.
PI: What do you think about the consolidation of local newspapers?
KA: Local community newspapers have an unduplicated reach, compared to major newspapers; their readers are loyal and have purchasing power. More often than not, consolidation of local newspapers leads to consolidation of editorial and advertising staff, which, in turn, can result in a loss of the local news so important to readers. No one knows the local market better than the folks who have dedicated their lives to reporting and selling advertising in that market.
PI: Digital First Media and GateHouse now own many of those outlets serving local communities. Do you think this could become something positive, and/or is it the inevitable future?
KA: Digital First Media and GateHouse’s acquisitions of publications allows for viability, longevity and keeping those newspapers in these markets. Both entities have strong circulations and digital capabilities, including programmatic buying. It is imperative local editorial and advertising teams provide current information to the local community. The newspaper team must be dedicated to all facets of the market they serve.
However, there will always be individually owned-and-operated newspapers.