Could it be that newspapers still matter?
With all the noise around strategies like native advertising and programmatic buying, it's easy to forget about the marketing potential of good old fashioned newspapers.
But a new study conducted by a trade group has come up with some numbers to show that print remains a valuable platform for reaching consumers via ads.
Seventy-nine percent of adults surveyed by the Newspaper Association of America, which advocates on behalf of the industry, had "taken action as a result of reading or seeing an ad in a print newspaper in the past 30 days," according to the study, which was released Tuesday.
The survey of 1,527 U.S. adults, conducted between May 20 and May31, also found that 57 percent of respondents had used newspaper media for shopping purposes in the past seven days, with 52 percent of respondents using a print newspaper and 21 percent using newspaper websites.
"The power of newspaper print ads to drive consumers to action is clear," the authors wrote in their report.
Of course many marketers and ad buyers would argue that that is exactly what isn't clear. One reason for the nosedive in print ad rates is the proveable "return on investment" that is theoretically available on newer digital platforms. (The proveability of the R.O.I. on digital advertising is a topic for another debate.)
There is no question either that as eyeballs have shifted to digital platforms over the past several years, print advertising revenues have experienced a precipitous decline, shattering the bedrock that had long buttressed the newspaper business. As N.A.A. president and C.E.O. Caroline Little noted in an August column, less than half of total U.S. newspaper revenues in 2013 came from advertising in daily or Sunday print editions, versus 80 percent in 2007.
Many brands have increasingly placed ad dollars with tech players like Facebook and Google, as well as newer digital news brands like The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed. They've also shown a growing preference for premium platforms like web video, as well as for digital innovations like native ads, which look similar to editorial content, and programmatic buying, which is automated and data driven.
Some smaller newspapers haven't survived the transition, while the biggest ones, like The New York Times and The Washington Post, are scrambling to bolster reader revenue through digital subscriptions.
But print, where advertising rates are still highly lucrative, is still ultimately what keeps the lights on, which suggests a bright spot in the N.A.A.'s latest statistics.
The survey also found that print newspaper advertising is seen as "being believable and trustworthy" and that 69 percent of respondents use newspapers to get coupons. Nearly two-thirds of consumers "look at or read advertisements as they go through the newspaper," it said.
The report comes in the wake of a string of newspaper spinoffs at major public media companies, where print is seen as a drag on financial growth.
In early August, the Tribune Company, which owns The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, completed the spinoff of its publishing unit, and Gannett, which owns USA Today, announced that it would likewise spin off its print business. News Corp., parent company of The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, as well as dozens of newspapers based in the U.K. and Australia, was spun off into a publishing-focused company a little over a year ago.