The Truth About Removing Newspaper Ads from Your Marketing Mix

It’s a truth many of us in the print industry are painfully aware of – newspaper advertising is far less effective today than in years past. It’s on the decline and has been for years.
When it comes to retailers, who’ve always relied on newspapers for their advertising, many of them don’t like to hear that a formerly successful advertising medium is not effective. As marketers ourselves, we don’t like it either. We want more media options in our mix, not less – but that doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to reality.
Advertisers were projected to spend $8.8 billion in newspaper advertising this year, a decrease of 13.5% from last year. So, while spending is decreasing…it’s still raking in $8.8 billion from folks who are loyal to the medium.
The time has come to shift your newspaper ad budget into a medium that will reach your audience reliably. Direct mail makes sense here because everyone has a mailbox and you can be sure your message will be seen by your target audience, month after month and year after year. Let’s look into the reasons why.

Reason #1 – If people are not reading newspapers, they are not seeing your newspaper ads

Readership is declining. When consumer survey participants were asked about their newspaper readership, 44% responded that they never read the paper. In fact, you can see in the graph below that sometime between 2015 and 2016, we had a major paradigm shift where more consumers reported they never read the paper, versus regularly read it. That’s a lot of people who are either not paying attention to the newspaper at all…or only reading occasionally.

For retail advertisers, choosing a medium only 25% of consumers are paying attention to is not the best way to maximize your return on investment. Not to mention that most retailers are looking to target younger consumers who are more likely to shop. We guarantee the 25% of consumers regularly reading the newspaper are not young, not as mobile, more likely to be on a fixed income, and not as likely to shop based on your sales and promotions. Targeting them with newspaper ads will diminish your chances of advertising success.

Reason #2 – Consumers in the Mspark geography value mail ads more than newspaper

As overall readership continues to decline, the newspaper is not the most cost-effective or reliable way to reach consumers. In fact, consumers in our geography are 56% more influenced by direct mail than they are by the newspaper.
For households with kids, 55% fewer respondents today indicated they read their local paper regularly, compared to 2009. These families with kids are no longer interested in their local newspaper. All they want are coupons and there is an easier way to deliver them… straight to their mailbox.
When it comes to seeking coupons, far more of these families are inclined to look for ads in their mailbox vs. the newspaper – 17% more likely. They are looking for ads in their mailbox already – for retailers, they should go where the eyeballs are.
Much of your print strategy will be influenced by the demographics and preferences of the target populations you are trying to reach. For example, rural consumers express a stronger preference for promotions delivered by mail, and especially shared mail packets where many different coupons and offers are found in one place. On the other hand, urban consumers have a preference for smaller, more visual pieces like postcards.

Reason #3 – Direct mail is high-response media – newspaper ads are not

When Black Friday shoppers were asked what type of ad prompted them to take action in the last 12 months, 63.8% said ads in the mailbox. And 48.5% said newspaper ads. That’s a major difference, especially when you consider that the numbers are never going to look better for newspaper. Shoppers want direct mail ads and they act on direct mail ads.

Understanding Shared Direct Mail

Since direct mail has such a powerful influence, particularly on buying behaviors of those with lagging levels of digital connectivity, we want to focus on a specific type of direct mail that continues to deliver the greatest levels of ROI but is less well understood by many marketers – shared mail.
Shared mail is a type of direct mail that allows multiple advertisers to share the cost of mailing by combining their ads into one package. The cost of advertising in a shared mail package can be as low as pennies per household. This means advertisers have a cost-effective and efficient way to deliver their message. Shared mail can still be highly targeted and personalized, even down to the carrier route and household level, which makes it a great tool for retention and expansion of existing customers.
As with all types of marketing, different shared mail options are often better suited to different business goals. The Mspark analytics team will dig into your specific objectives and targets and help you formulate the best mix. It may include:

Final Thoughts

While it’s sometimes difficult to remove newspaper ads from your marketing mix, it’s good to know there are highly effective print options like shared mail. We can show you how to incorporate shared mail into your campaigns and set up a targeted marketing strategy that integrates with your digital media approach as well. In the meantime, check out our latest eBook on how direct mail can power up your marketing mix.
Winterberry Group analysis of multiple sources, including AdAge, Cadent Consulting Group, eMarketer, IBISWorld, Jack Myers, Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Pivotal Research Group, PwC, Video
Advertising Bureau, ZenithOptimedia
Prosper Insights & Analytics 2019