Despite the plethora of online content available today, Ireland’s newspaper publishers are continuing to invest in their content to produce quality journalism that makes the nation sit up and pay attention, writes Gillian Hamill
22 September 2022 | 0
Newspaper readers are worth an estimated €1.9 billion a year to the retail sector. Indeed, a 2019 study from market research company Behaviour & Attitudes, found that shoppers spend an average of €14 on each trip to buy a newspaper. Digital media may have transformed the way we consume news, but the leading titles on the newsstands are still a major part of the fabric of daily life in Ireland and are still a driver of sales today.
Publishers are continuing to invest in their titles and quality journalism of the highest standards. The newspaper industry has certainly demonstrated impressive resilience throughout the pandemic, with the Sunday market recording growth during the Covid period.
A great example of how the newspaper industry is continuing to attract new readership is the success demonstrated by the Irish Farmers Journal. The newspaper has seen significant growth amongst its younger print readership with 43% of readers now under 35 years of age (up from 35% in 2020). Editor and CEO Justin McCarthy describes the increase as “a strong endorsement” of the title’s determination to invest in unique content.
“We view this record readership alongside the rapid growth across our digital platforms as a strong endorsement of our ongoing strategy to produce ‘unique’ content that is both relevant and valuable to our growing audience,” he says. “We will continue to invest in our content and bring the pages to life by engaging with our readers at events such as the 5,000 farmers who attended our recent Tullamore Farm and Thrive Open days.”
As outlined below, the country’s leading newspaper titles are likewise continuing to engage with retailers and work in partnership with them to bolster sales.
David Vaz, circulation manager, DMG Media outlines the latest developments taking place at the Irish Daily Mail, The Irish Mail on Sunday, the i newspaper, Business Plus magazine and the group’s digital portfolio, which includes Extra.ie, Evoke, RollerCoaster.ie, OneFabDay.com, GeekIreland.com, MailOnline and BusinessPlus.ie
€15,000 to be won
DMG Media will continue to engage with retail partners and is delighted to announce the launch of its ‘Seize the Day. Everyday’ campaign and has invited all retailers to participate. Retail packs have been distributed to all outlets supplied by EM News. To participate, display the point of sale collateral, which will consist of an A4 poster, shelf strip and wobbler and enter by emailing a picture of your POS display to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact DMG if you have not received a pack.
Cash prizes will be awarded to retailers and throughout the next 12 months, there will be a total of €15,000 handed out to retailers.
Earlier in the year, DMG Media trialled the ‘Seize the Day’ Campaign which included a regional and national radio and POS campaign. The team targeted retailers in selected counties with retail packs and offered cash prizes for retailers who displayed the point of sale material. This was followed up with personal visits and the response from the retail trade was very positive.
Performance of titles
The newspaper market continues to show decline and DMG Media titles were no different, which were down in line with both the daily and Sunday market. Recording sales of 19,552 for the Irish Daily Mail and 44,843 for The Irish Mail on Sunday (Jan to June 2022), what looked like a recovery in January and February changed once the conflict in the Ukraine started.
The i newspaper also owned by DMG Media reduced the cover price in October and has seen continuous growth in sales, with over 600 copies now being sold daily. It publishes Monday to Saturday and has a fresh and exciting look at UK and world news, business, opinion, lifestyle, culture and sport.
DMG Media revenues from newspaper sales for the last 12 months were buoyant with nearly €20m going through retailers’ tills.
Business Plus, the market-leading Irish business to business magazine, is now part of the growing DMG Media Group. With topics covering all areas of SME news from mergers and acquisitions to funding, science and technology to the economy, Business Plus is Ireland’s foremost specialist business publication. DMG Media encourages the trade to fully support this Irish magazine and to stock it on their shelves.
The Irish Daily Mail and The Irish Mail on Sunday have similar gender profiles (male/female – 52%/48% daily and 53%/47% Sunday) with both publications having a stronghold in the important ABC1 group, (ABC1 profile – 46% daily and 48% Sunday). Both are over-indexing against the ABC1 population which is 43%.
Main shoppers are strongly represented across both papers; for the Irish Daily Mail, three out of four readers are responsible for the main shop each week within the household and for the Irish Mail on Sunday, that equates to two out of three readers.
Along with DMG’s two national newspapers, the Irish Daily Mail and The Irish Mail on Sunday, it is one of Ireland’s largest digital publishers with seven digital brands. This portfolio includes Extra.ie, Evoke, RollerCoaster.ie, OneFabDay.com, GeekIreland.com, MailOnline and BusinessPlus.ie which together with its print titles reach over 3.6 million Irish adults every month.
DMG Media Ireland has become the first member of IAB Ireland to achieve the IAB Gold Standard certification for its stable of digital brands. Through its print and digital publications, the group plays an active and positive role not just in the media, but in Irish society as a whole.
Newspapers have a responsibility to maintain high standards and to ensure they have the trust of the public. DMG Media continues to invest in both the Irish Daily Mail and The Irish Mail on Sunday and consistently brings the big stories to readers. Its journalism covers the issues which affect readers, including the rising cost of living, energy crisis, housing and health issues.
Q&A with…Alan Kelly, audience manager for Reach Plc
Alan Kelly outlines the performance of Reach Plc’s titles which include the Irish Daily Mirror, Irish Daily Star, Irish Sunday Mirror, Irish Sunday People, RSVP magazine and RSVP Specials, as well as an extensive digital portfolio, including Irishmirror.ie, DublinLive, BelfastLive, RSVPLive, CorkBeo, Galway Beo and Buzz.ie
Q: What are the latest circulation and readership figures for your title(s), and how do these compare to last year’s figures?
A: The Irish Daily Mirror, Irish Daily Star and Irish Sunday Mirror continue to perform strongly in a very challenging market post pandemic, as well as the fallout from the war in Ukraine, and the subsequent cost of living crisis which we now find ourselves in. Despite this, our titles were amongst the best performing in the market in terms of yearly decline, as detailed here:
Jan-Jun 2022 ABC performance
Irish Daily Mirror: 21,215 (-9% YoY)
Irish Sunday Mirror: 15,837 (-12% YoY)
Irish Daily Star: 29,342 (-10% YoY)
Q: What is the profile of your newspapers’ readership demographic?
A: Below is the latest TGI data on our demographic breakdown for the Irish Daily Star and Irish Daily Mirror:
TGI ROI 2022 Survey
Irish Daily Star
- 128,000 readers – 36% female / 64% male
Irish Daily Mirror
- 116,000 readers – 47% female / 53% male
- 224,000 readers – 41% female / 59% male
Q: Quality journalism is essential for newspapers to perform in today’s market. How have you ensured you are delivering on, or exceeding readers’ expectations? What were some of your major stories/’scoops’ over the past year and how did these affect sales?
A: We pride ourselves on the quality of the journalism we produce right across our print and digital portfolio. Our loyal readers expect to be informed and entertained in equal measure, and the research we carry out, enables us to produce content that our readers want to consume. It’s imperative that we continue to invest and develop in our print and digital platforms, so we can deliver trusted, informative and entertaining content to readers on a daily basis. One of the biggest stories of the year was the horrific murder of the young schoolteacher Ashling Murphy back in January, which delivered significant sales increases over a two-week period, whilst the dismantling of the Kinahan cartel yielded some big increases too.
Q: As the cost-of-living crisis continues, offers and promotions will become even more important in generating sales: which promotions were the most successful during the past year and what else have you planned on this front in the coming weeks and months?
A: Reach has a consistent strategy for good quality, high-value online and print promotional giveaways that serve to reward regular readers, and attract new readers. Our superb Slimming World magazines, which have run for the past few years continue to deliver solid sales increases in January and April, whilst our partnership with Paddy Power and the offering of free €5 shop bets to readers on major sporting events such as Cheltenham, Aintree, Galway and the GAA hurling and football finals offers outstanding value for money, and healthy sales increases which will also benefit our retail partners.
Q: What are the benefits to retailers of the trade terms in stocking your titles?
A: The Irish Daily Mirror has long maintained one of the healthiest retail margins in the market at 26.5%. We recognise the important roles played by our retail partners, and shall continue to work closely with them, to explore new sales opportunities and revenue streams. Our RSVP Country special magazines have witnessed some brilliant sales performances and delivered a good cash return for retailers based on the current cover price and 25% margin.
Q: As we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, how has the pandemic shaped consumer trends within the newspaper market in the long-term and what lessons have been learnt from this period?
A: The newspaper industry had just emerged from one of the most turbulent times it has ever experienced with the Covid pandemic, and then it rolled into the war in Ukraine, and the current cost of living crisis. There is little doubt that there has been a realignment in the market post Covid, as consumers returned to some semblance of normality and routine. I think that the newspaper market showed huge resilience during Covid times, which was typified by the growth witnessed in the Sunday market during the pandemic. We are constantly reading obituaries for the newspaper print industry across the globe, yet the pandemic has taught us that quality, trusted content has the ability to attract new and lapsed readers, regardless of the medium, and that newspapers still have a major part to play in that.
The Irish Farmers Journal has increased its print readership by 58,000 weekly readers in 2022, readership figures released by Kantar Media show. The total print readership of the Irish Farmers Journal now stands at 379,400 readers on the island of Ireland, up from a record breaking 321,400 weekly readers in 2021. Circulation sales of the title grew at a double-digit rate from the beginning of the pandemic with readers having more time at their disposal due to the cancellation of farmer meetings, events and marts.
Growth in younger records
The title has seen significant growth amongst its younger print readership with 43% of readers now under 35 years of age (up from 35% in 2020). Editor and CEO Justin McCarthy believes this increase is “a strong endorsement” of the title’s determination to invest in unique content.
“We would like to thank each of our 379,400 weekly readers for your support,” says McCarthy. “We view this record readership alongside the rapid growth across our digital platforms as a strong endorsement of our ongoing strategy to produce ‘unique’ content that is both relevant and valuable to our growing audience. We will continue to invest in our content and bring the pages to life by engaging with our readers at events such as the 5,000 farmers who attended our recent Tullamore Farm and Thrive Open days.”
Kantar Media’s TGI (Target Group Index) survey is trusted by the world’s most influential publishers, media owners, agencies and advertisers to provide essential consumer insights and audience profiling. 6,310 adults (16+) completed the Kantar Media survey (4,006 Republic of Ireland & 2,304 Northern Ireland).
Setting the business agenda
Following the acquisition of the Business Post by Kilkullen Kapital in 2018, a lot has happened such as transforming the flagship title in press and online, continuing the acquisition process, and making strides to complete its vision in becoming the Business Post Group.
The new acquisitions included Food & Wine, Irish Tatler and Auto Ireland. In addition, BPMG’s conferences and events business also acquired the Hospitality Expo and Fitout Expo brands and invested in Digital DNA, London Speakers Bureau Ireland and AI firm Tribe 101. Food & Wine magazine was launched in October 2020 and is free with the Business Post on the first Sunday of every month and Irish Tatler was launched in November 2020 and is free with the Business Post on the second Sunday of every month. Strategically these titles were acquired to compliment the Business Post and add depth and breadth to the already existing great business and political content.
Management structure changes
Most recently the Business Post Group has made a number of significant changes to its management structure following a period of rapid growth over the past three years.
The new changes will see Colm O’Reilly, currently CEO of the Business Post, switch to chief operations officer of the Business Post Group. In this new role he will be responsible for managing the overall financial performance of our group as well as managing the group’s acquisitions and funding strategy.
O’Reilly’s replacement as CEO of the Business Post is Sarah Murphy who is currently CEO of iQuest, the group’s events and experience business. While she will retain responsibility for this, she will also be responsible for the overall performance and management of the Business Post media business.
In addition, Lorcán Hanlon, currently commercial director of the Business Post, has been appointed as chief commercial & revenue officer of the Business Post Group. While he will hold responsibility for the commercial performance of advertising, sponsorship and partnership revenues, his new role includes focusing on the development of group revenue strategies across media, experiences, data, and emerging business platforms.