NAA Study: Newspaper Sites Continue Readership Gains

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By: Jennifer Saba

Newspapers are continuing to gain more readers through their Web sites said the Newspaper Association of America today.

According to the NAA’s Newspaper Audience Database (NADbase), more than 55.5 million unique visitors — or one in three Internet users — went to a newspaper Web site in a given month during the first half of 2006. That’s a 31% increase over the same period a year ago.

The data bears out that younger people are not ditching the paper — they are reading it online. Newspaper Web sites contributed a 15% increase in total audience for adults 25 to 34 and a 10% increase in adults 18 to 24.

“We are already seeing the positive impact of publishers’ innovations and strategies to broaden the audience online,” said John Sturm, president and CEO of the NAA, during a conference call this morning.

The latest wave of data represents the NAA’s push towards measuring “total audience” — a metric that has taken on new meaning as print circulation deteriorates. The NADbase takes into account the reach of a newspaper’s print and online products as well as key demographic data.

Last fall, the NAA rolled out the NADbase, a report released semi-annually that tracks 100 newspapers using Nielsen//NetRatings and Scarborough Research.

Today marked the third release of the report.

In addition, the NAA unveiled a new interactive tool built by Scarborough that allows advertisers to generate their own reports locally or nationally using newspaper print and online audience numbers.

“NADbase puts newspapers on a more level playing field,” said Audrea Fulton, vice president, director of print, at Carat. “We also view NADbase as a positive step forward to understand how newspapers function.”

The NAA is quick to point out that total audience data is not meant to replace net paid circulation.

“We are not trying to diminish the importance of net paid circulation,” said John Kimball, the NAA’s senior vice president and CMO. But by looking only at circulation, advertisers miss the biggest part of the story, Kimball said. “Who are the people reading newspapers?”

Jason Klein, president and CEO of the Newspaper National Network said his organization used readership stats to pull together a newspaper buy for a major consumer packaged goods company targeting women 25 to 54. Klein said they reached 17 million women with the newspaper buy — the same number of women who watched the Super Bowl and double the number of women who watch Desperate Housewives.

“Readership is a better predictor than circulation,” Klein said. “It’s an apples-to-apples comparison across media.”

The NAA also calculated which newspapers had the greatest increase in total reach through their Web sites for adults 25 to 34:

The Washington Times, 60.2%
The Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake City 52%
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 48.3%
The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune, 36.7%
Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Ill., 35%
The Boston Globe, 32.8%
The Seattle Times, 31.9%
Sun-Sentinel, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., 31.2%
Austin American-Statesman, 29.2%
Asbury Park (N.J.) Press 28.9%

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