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Newspapers have an advertising problem (no, not that one)

Photo of a guy reading a newspaper in the water.

inju / Flickr

David Higgerson, the head of multimedia for Trinity Mirror Regionals, comes back from the Society of Editors conference with this telling information:

The only session which didn’t look at regulation of the industry was the last one, which dealt with what the future might hold, based on what editors had said in a survey. Jim Chisholm, the analyst who carried out the study, threw in this gem:

#soe11 newspapers need to spend more on advertising. Coca Cola spends 14% of revenue on advertising, newspapers less than 1%.

Chisholm then made the following point: Everyone knows who Coca Cola are and what they do, so why spend so much on advertising? Because it ensures we remember who they are and what they do. Newspapers, he argued, have been forgotten by many people.

I struggle to think of any newspaper that’s made a legitimate advertising push at any point in the last several years, with the exception of The New York Times and their young-couple TV campaign. Locally, I can vaguely recall the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (when it was still in print) running a small-ish billboard campaign.

I don’t know what the rationale is with newspapers not advertising themselves — it’s probably some combination of “we’re the news; we don’t need to advertise” and “advertising is expensive” — but all newsbrands should take to heart Chisholm’s point that no matter how visible you are, you’ll always benefit from reinforcing what you’re all about.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ego. Pure and simple. Newspapers didn’t advertise when margins were around 30% and they could clearly afford it. 

    That said, I do see the Seattle Times advertising their classified verticals, but that’s likely because they have separate brands (nwjobs, nwautos, nwhomes).

  • It’s funny, too, because what newspaper wouldn’t benefit hugely from a rebranding campaign (even a cheap one)?