Print is not entirely dying. At least not yet.

As print revenues for daily newspapers have been on the decline since 2005, with the major drop starting in 2007, news came out early last year that revenues had actually dropped to their lowest point since 1950.[1] Furthermore, many of these companies are able overstate the amount of actual readers their print product has as they are able to count digital subscribers among their registered subscriptions, or have paywalls set up that encourage readers to subscribe to their print edition at lower costs like the Chicago Tribune,[2] thus ensuring that their print products can seem better than what they necessarily are.

Mary Meeker Print Over Indexed

Slide from KPCB’s Internet Trends 2015 – Code Conference

And as the print revenues have continued to dwindle due to decreased subscriptions and/or decreased print advertising, digital ad spending has not been able to grow fast enough to make up for the losses,[3] which has furthermore resulted in increased turnover of print products between different conglomerates as well as decreased newsroom workforce. Coupled with a recent slight decline in circulation from 2013 to 2014[4] and Mary Meeker’s report on the State of the Internet continuing to highlight that agencies continue to allocate a higher percentage of their budgets to print ads as opposed to the percentage of time readers spend actually looking at print,[5] it’s easy to see that the floor on which print media stands has not stabilized yet.

Although, while all this is happening there still is strong print growth!

El Clasificado PublicationThis growth, however, is through sources that differ from the standard daily newspaper. Specifically, this is true for Hispanic publications, which have actually tripled their circulation from 2005-2013 while also generating more than $1 billion in revenue, as according to the NAHP.[6] And while we’ve already noted that there has been a slight decline in circulation for traditional subscription based print publications, at EC Hispanic Media, we’ve actually seen exactly the opposite as print still has been working strongly and has been delivering strong results for advertisers as the pick-up rate for El Clasificado averages 85%, still being strongly driven by the primary footprint with continued growth being seen in areas the company expanded into as recently as two years ago.[7]

Not limited to just Spanish language publications either, the company has also been able to further expand into the English language through areas that were left vacant around the time that the Pennysaver USA shuttered their doors in May of this year. Having closed their Vista plant earlier in the year,[8] the publication had already been decreasing their circulation, but while this had been happening, the company was still operating at a profit, and the market was still viable as the company closure was cited as a result of a line of credit being revoked.[9]

EC Classifieds PublicationSeeing this opportunity, EC Hispanic Media decided to take a step towards the English language market as advertisers who had found success with the mailer were now looking for new ways to advertise their deals from large regional retailers to mom and pop restaurants. On July 1, the company sent out their first EC Classifieds publications to target three of these markets specifically, reaching Bakersfield, the Inland Empire, and Orange County and already has found success in these markets, growing to eight targeted zones and increasing the circulation from 95,000 to 175,000 in the course of four months with continued growth expected for the near future. Perhaps even more impressively, the company has already started seeing large increases in pick up rates for the publication already averaging 67%, a number that the company expects to continue to see improve as internal distribution adjustments are made to maximize yield for advertisers. Adjustments which have already led to increases in areas such as Orange County where the average EC Classifieds pick up rate have already increased from 64% to 72%.[7]

While subscription based print will struggle, other print outlets still grow!

For years to come, subscription based print will continue to struggle, and in many cases will end up slowly continuing to fade as a preferred media choice, but it’s clear that there is still an opportunity for advertisers to reach markets through print advertising so long as their allocating their budgets properly. While it has already been noted that advertisers are allocating a sizable amount of their budgets towards print as readers are spending less time with the medium, looking forward to 2016’s marketing budgets, the answer could simply be reallocating their dollars towards non-subscriber and Hispanic based publications, which are still seeing increases in their readership.

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[1]https://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/04/28/decline_of_newspapers_hits_a_milestone_print_revenue_is_lowest_since_1950.html
[2]https://myaccount2.chicagotribune.com/dssSubscribe.aspx?pc=1#/offers
[3]https://www.stateofthemedia.org/2013/newspapers-stabilizing-but-still-threatened/newspapers-by-the-numbers/
[4]https://www.journalism.org/2015/04/29/newspapers-fact-sheet/
[5]https://fortune.com/2015/05/27/meeker-print-future/
[6]https://www.netnewscheck.com/article/42388/with-hispanic-audiences-growing-opps-for-publications-and-ads
[7]Internal El Clasificado Information, Audited by CVC
[8]https://www.ocregister.com/articles/pennysaver-662939-california-san.html
[9]https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-pennysaver-opengate-20150618-story.html