Forecasting 2016: How Digital and Print Ads will Evolve in the Newspaper Industry

When it comes to comparing print revenue to digital revenue in the newspaper industry, perception is much different than reality. As digital has evolved, newspapers have learned a great deal about how to reach and audience, and what type of content to create. The biggest thing that newspapers have learned is that consumers on the Internet have the ability to dismiss advertising that they do not want to see. Instead of transposing newspaper display ads into digital banners or television commercials into online videos, advertisers need to develop content that consumers want to interact with. It is a complete change in the dynamic that newspapers are used to.

But is it worth the investment for newspapers to continue to find new ways to engage consumers in advertising? While print advertising can be as easily ignored as closing a banner ad, there is still life in print advertising that is going to be hard for newspapers to ignore. It is impossible to deny that newspapers must continue the transition to digital if they want to reach their target audiences, but the time has not yet come to abandon print.

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The Challenges Of Digital

The Newspaper Association of America acknowledges that digital is the future, but print advertising is far from dead. As advertisers continue to experiment with ways to attract consumers to digital advertising, they are also looking for ways to maximize their print advertising revenue. One of the big reasons for clinging to print is that digital poses some challenges that have not yet been solved.

It took advertisers years to realize that consumers were closing banner ads and ignoring videos. When news became readily available for free on the Internet, print advertising revenue started to drop. The industry thought that they could recoup these losses in digital advertising, but that has not happened. The disinterest that consumers are showing in online advertising is a concern for newspapers because of the need for digital advertising to work. If newspapers cannot figure out a way to get consumers to engage with digital advertising, then digital revenue will start to drop alongside print revenue.

The biggest challenge facing newspapers is the meteoric rise in popularity of mobile computing devices. It is easy to place banner ads or text ads along the borders of a desktop website, but that cannot be done on a mobile screen. To this point, consumers have rejected all of the ideas newspapers have come up with for mobile advertising and that is causing advertising revenues to struggle. Until the mystery of creating the perfect mobile ad is solved, the growth of mobile computing will continue to be a thorn in the side of newspapers.

What About Print?

According to, digital advertising revenues for newspapers, books, and magazines combined will grow from 14 percent in 2015 to 24 percent in 2020. That means that digital advertising will only account for one-quarter of the advertising and revenue generated by the major print industries. Books will see the largest transition to digital, which makes sense. But the expected revenue share for digital newspapers by 2020 is only expected to be 15 percent. In other words, 85 percent of the newspapers that are purchased in the United States in 2020 will be print.

The five-year future of print newspapers actually looks pretty strong, but the industry cannot ignore the fact that digital will be taking over at some point. Still, with print remaining in demand for the foreseeable future, it is important for newspapers to find ways to maximize their print advertising revenue while that revenue still exists. Oddly enough, the answer to maximizing print advertising revenue is found in a partnership with digital.

Appealing To Younger Generations

According to Forbes Magazine, integrated marketing campaigns that link print and online advertising components together are extremely effective. There is even print technology that can be scanned by a smartphone to reveal online coupons, or websites with more information about promotional deals. But why are companies spending this kind of time and money on making print relevant when digital is taking over? The reason has to do with the way that the Millennial generation is completely bucking trends when it comes to shopping and advertising.

It is estimated that 81 percent of Millennials do their retail buying in brick and mortar stores and not online. It is also estimated that 51 percent of the coupons Millennials use come from print advertising in newspapers. Since marketing and advertising experts are always looking to the future for the answers to sourcing new revenue, the notion that the emerging consumer generation is using brick and mortar stores and newspapers to do the bulk of their shopping gives a great deal of hope to the future of print advertising.

Where Does Advertising Go From Here?

It is likely that newspapers will continue to use integrated marketing tactics and special print methods to maximize their print advertising revenues. If Millennials are using newspapers to find the best deals, then newspapers are more than happy to use that information to maintain print advertising revenues.

The older generations are the ones diving deep into online retail stores and online coupons. That means that as Millennials age, we can expect to see the transition to digital pick up speed. Is print advertising a trendy thing right now? Most newspaper advertising experts are suspecting that as technology becomes more advanced, Millennials will transition to digital. Once that transition picks up speed, we can expect to see drops in print advertising across the board.

Those who sounded the death knell for print advertising have spoken entirely too soon. With the newest generation of consumers boosting print newspaper revenue higher, it looks like print has a future, for now. The transition to digital is not as rapid or widespread as people may have thought it was, and that is also affecting how newspapers look at print advertising. As long as print advertising remains popular and provides a considerable amount of advertising revenue to newspapers, clients can expect newspapers to continue to recommend print advertising as a viable revenue-generating option.

How else can print newspaper use the digital space to find new revenue?

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