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Looking Ahead – Challenges and Strengths
by Jennifer Armor
Massive layoffs, employee buyouts, ever-decreasing ad revenue, bad economic times. You can't read an industry magazine, newsletter, email, or blog without hearing a new tale of woe.
Verified recently conducted a survey of publishers about the biggest challenges facing them in 2008 and in the future.
When we asked what they thought were the most significant trends in publishing today, they told us that increased investment in online/websites and continued declines in circulation were the most significant. In addition, increased demand for ROI from advertisers and media buyers and continued fragmentation of media topped their list.
When asked what strengths print media can provide that other media cannot they had some strong feelings.
Publishers are aware that they either have to get onboard with new media to reach readers or lose them. But how to use new media to grow readership or generate ad revenue is still a puzzle. As with the rest of us, increasing costs, combined with a sluggish economy, are hitting them hard.
Publishers told us that they are still an optimistic group, though. They believe that print has core strengths that new media doesn't—familiarity and trust.
Consumer Coupon Usage Up
By Jennifer Armor
While a significant number of people are moving to paperless and online coupons, the Sunday newspaper remains the number one place for consumers to find coupons. Other sources include mail (35%), in-store coupons (33%), loyalty cards (22%), in-store circulars (22%), weekday newspapers (17%), product packages (17%), and magazines (15%). Internet coupon usage is up a whopping 83% over the past three years; however, only 11% of consumers are using online coupons.
Scarborough Research recently examined Grocery Coupon Clipping Households, or those that use grocery coupons once a week or more. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Rochester, New York, led the U.S. in coupon usage. Cities with high coupon usage also tended to have higher Sunday newspaper readership.
The Scarborough study also found that Grocery Coupon Clipping Households tended to spend more on groceries weekly ($114 verses $110 for other U.S. households). They are more likely to buy a larger variety of products. Demographically, coupon usage spans all income brackets, but those with higher household incomes tend to use slightly more grocery coupons.
According to CMS Inc., a coupon-processing agent in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, consumers redeemed 2.6 billion manufacturer's coupons last year. This marked the first year since 1992 that coupon usage has not fallen. CMS said that historical trends show that coupon usage has been up in tough economic times, so they expect even more usage in 2008.
"You can't really cut the price of gas, but you can cut the cost of food in half," said Teri Gault, founder and CEO of TheGroceryGame.com. The site helps consumers coordinate manufacturer coupon use with store sales to maximize savings.
With the price of consumer goods continuing to rise, the importance of a "good deal" is increasingly important to shoppers. Coupons provide a promotional vehicle that stores and products can use to get shoppers in the door and spending despite uncertain economic times.
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Total Newspaper Readership Grows
For all the gloom in the newspaper industry, total readership—including website visitors—is increasing, according to Mediamark Research and Intelligence, which found a 2.1% increase in audience size to 80.6 million between spring 2007 and spring 2008. The survey was performed by MRI for the Newspaper National Network (NNN) in the top 100 media markets.
Importantly, this figure includes unduplicated online readers, counting each person who reads both newspapers and online just once.
According to the Newspaper Association of America, the total unique audience for newspaper websites reached 66.4 million in the first quarter of 2008—12.3% greater than the same period in 2007. Visitors generated 3.1 billion page views in the first quarter, up from 3 billion last year.
In addition to the contribution of newspaper websites, NNN cited a couple of other factors to account for the increase in readership. While conceding that circulation has declined over the last decade, NNN noted that publishers only cut marginal—not core—circulation. There has also been a proliferation of free newspapers targeting consumers, like AM New York and Metro. Finally, there has been an increase in pass-along readership.
© 2008 MediaPost Communications
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