“Advertisers are buying around newspapers, but audiences are not,” says NewsMediaWorks chief executive Peter Miller.
Enhanced Media Metrics Australia (emma) data shows that total news media readership lifted by 2 per cent in both 2016 and 2017. Similar observations were made within Roy Morgan’s readership figures.
The findings are complemented by Fairfax Media and News Corp Australia both reporting gains in subscribers within their half -ear results, continuing an upward trend.
However, data from the News Media Index (NMI) has shown that advertising in news media has declined 16 per cent in 2016 before slipping a further 19 per cent last year.
Mr Miller argues that the NMI data, and by extension data obtained by the Standard Media Index, provides an incomplete view of the media buying landscape, making it unrepresentative of the entire sector.
Not only does the data not measure direct advertising spend within news media, but it also does not include media spend of one of the country’s biggest media holdings groups, IPG Mediabrands, which pulled out of the aggregator in April, 2016.
“SMI is broadly reputable. It is a bit of a barometer, it is just an incomplete barometer,” Mr Miller said.
“It is certainly no barometer for newspapers and the health of news media.”
Through this concentrated focus, the data fails to account for the direct marketing spend that makes up more than $1 billion of total ad spend.
Mr Miller says publishers have indicated that direct spend has remained steady; large companies with relationships to publishers and small businesses are both committed to news media.
“They are not sticking with a medium they know; they are not sticking with a medium for nostalgia,” he said. “They are sticking with the medium because it is producing the sales results they need for their businesses to prosper.”
The huge interest in the longevity of newspapers in the context of the SMI data Mr Miller likened to a “bloodsport”. People just want to know “who will get screwed this month”.
“Readership up, direct advertising steady, media agency advertising down. There is a failure to recognise ongoing power of print and digital news media,” he said.
“There is inadequate representation of newspapers and digital news media in media schedules and there is an obsession with digital solutions which are no doubt easy to access and easy to use, but it doesn’t make them a perfect plan.
“We have got to get to the heart of the problem. We haven’t got the have the answer, so one of the things we are doing is asking questions. And that’s what I would recommend advertising sales representatives do – ask questions and challenge the thinking,” Mr Miller said.