Rising Circ Value? Study Finds More People Reading Each Newspaper Copy

By: Mark Fitzgerald

A new study that links readership and circulation finds that the pass-along rate of daily newspapers has bumped up significantly in the past three years, suggesting each copy is a better buy for advertisers. And the adults bumming a copy of the paper aren’t doing it because they’re poor, according to the research, which finds print newspaper readers are wealthier and better educated than the general public.

The study of 25 newspapers conducted by Scarborough Research and Newspaper National Network LP (NNN) concludes that readers per copy (RPC) rates increased over the past three years by an average of 7.5%. In 2007, an average of 3.07 adults in the study read a copy of a printed daily newspaper, a number that increased to 3.30 adults in 2009.

“More people are reading each printed copy, further enhancing the value of the newspaper as an advertising medium, and increasing exposure for advertisers,” Gary Meo, Scarborough’s senior vice president/print and digital media services, said in a statement.

It’s an indication that newspapers are running more efficiently, added NNN President and CEO Jason E. Klein: “Fewer printed papers are needed to reach a comparable number of readers, and digital formats are enabling newspapers to reach a growing audience.”

The study also examined demographics of daily print newspaper readers in the top 25 DMAs. The median household income of those readers is $72,300, or 12% higher than the overall median of $64,500. And print daily readers are 11% more likely to be homeowners than adults overall. Newspaper readers are also 16% more likely than all adults to be college graduates.

Scarborough and NNN, the nationwide sales and marketing network with 25 newspaper company shareholders, also found that readership is declining in tandem with circulation — but at a slower rate. “This suggests that efforts by publishers to jettison unprofitable or unproductive circulation have been successful,” the study said.

“Telling the Whole Story: Analysis Supports Readership as Key Metric for Planning and Buying Newspaper Advertising,” is available for download free of charge here and here.

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