Internet Opportunity Knocks as Newspaper Website Audiences Grow

February 20, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Household Income | Newspapers | Youth & Gen X

US newspaper website audience coverage has grown 14% – from 6.4% for the 12 months ended Sept. 2005, to 7.3% for the 12 months ended March 2007 – and that online audience growth is mitigating print audience losses by 28%, according to (pdf) Scarborough Research.

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The analysis of newspaper website audience examined data collected August 2004-March 2007 for 88 newspapers in the top 50 local markets in the US.

Among the findings of the Scarborough analysis:

  • Newspaper websites are delivering younger, more elusive audiences, particularly in the 18-34-year-old demographic: “Website exclusive” readership among adults ages 18-34 increased 21% (from 2.4% for the 12 months ended Sept. 2005 to 2.9% for the 12 months ended March 2007).
  • Newspaper website readers are also increasingly wealthy and educated:
    • The percentage of exclusive website readership among adults with annual household incomes of $75K increased 33% (from 2.4% for the 12 months ended Sept. 2005 to 3.2% for the 12 months ended March 2007).
    • Exclusive website readership among adults with a with college degree or greater increased by 16% (from 3.1% for the 12 months ended Sept. 2005 to 3.6% for the 12 months ended March 2007).

“The internet has injected new life into an industry that has been battling declining audiences for decades,” said Gary Meo, SVP, print and digital services, Scarborough Research. “Newspaper websites, together with other products such as free daily papers and various niche publications, are part of a powerful advertising portfolio,” he added.

Scarborough also interviewed select newspaper executives about their websites, and found common themes for website success: a commitment to localism, developing unique and interactive content, and relentless cross-promotion.

Some 70% of newspaper website visitors also read the printed publication – underscoring the cross-promotional opportunities newspapers now offer to brands, Scarborough said.

About the analysis: All data in the analysis is from Scarborough’s local market studies. Newspaper websites included have a local market penetration of 1% or greater (at least 1% of their market visited the newspaper website during the past week). A total of 88 papers in the top 50 local markets qualified. The timeframe for data collection was August 2004 – March 2007 (Scarborough Local Market Studies, Release 2 2005 through Release 1 2007).

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