All the news that’s fit to print…
Despite a slowdown in sales in recent years, Ireland’s newspaper is thriving thanks to innovation, modernisation and continuing high standards. This month, some of the industry’s top publishers outline their recent successes and plans for the future
28 September 2016
There is no denying that the past decade has seen social media and the internet take a firm grip on society when it comes to spreading and gathering news. In fact, ever since the personal computer revolution in the 1980s and 90s, commentators (some in-the-know, some not so much) have been gleefully declaring “print is dead”. Now, while evidence suggests that the progression to digital sources is ongoing and unavoidable, the reliance of Irish people on the quality titles that have been household names for decades, is stronger than ever.
The Joint National Readership Survey 2014/2015 suggests that four out of five adults – totaling around 3m people – reads a national daily newspaper every day, either in print or online.
The survey also showed that while readership of Sunday newspapers declined over the previous 12 months, overall print readership has remained “relatively consistent”.
Some 720,000 people access newspaper titles online every day, a significant increase of 27% on the previous year’s results, while seven in 10 people who read online every day, also read a printed newspaper.
So then, the results clearly show that there is still a place for newspapers in daily life, and when the need arises, one should never feel the need to “shop around” for the title they want. Consumers want and need the aforementioned “household names” to be readily available if and when they’re needed, and in this month’s category focus, we take a closer look at those newspapers that are a part of the fabric of daily life in Ireland.
DMG Media Ireland
In what has been another challenging year, the Irish Daily Mail has taken the big decision to increase its cover price. The weekday edition recently increased in price by 20c to €1.20, this being the first cover price increase since August 2008. The Saturday edition also increased by 20c to €1.40 and in the process, the publishers maintained the current retail discount terms.
In that challenging climate, the ABC figures of the Irish Daily Mail for the period January – June 2016 came in at 46,578. This was an increase of 1.2% in the July – December 2015 period. In comparison, the daily market in the same period is down by more than 2%. The Irish Mail on Sunday sells an average of 83,414 copies.
According to the latest TGI readership research, the readership of the Irish Daily Mail is 183,000 adults, while the Irish Mail on Sunday’s is 296,000. Both titles command a very rich profile of Main Shoppers, with nearly 70% of all readers across each newspaper in this demographic. Of all national newspapers, the Irish Daily Mail and The Irish Mail on Sunday have the strongest proportion of female readers in the market.
Across Ireland, the newspaper’s profile is nationally representative. Almost half of readers are based in Dublin or Leinster, while 30% are based in Munster. These readers are “mature and secure”, 75% are over 35 and over half own their own home outright with no mortgage.
Overall, the Irish Daily Mail has seen strong sales and can still offer readers great value in a demanding marketplace, ensuring that they receive the best news and sport. The Irish Daily Mail cites its coverage of the “Brexit” vote, the Dublin gangland shootings and more recently the Cavan murder case as all helping increase sales and giving confidence that there is still a market for selling print newspapers.
The Irish Daily Mail has continued to deliver promotions for its readers, none more so than its 1916 commemorative coin offer and pull-outs which ran in March. This was supported with a strong TV campaign and support from the retail trade which resulted in POS being displayed and extra facings of the paper. These joint efforts resulted in an uplift of nearly 20% against base. Other successful promotions included, Road Atlas, World Map, Health Supplements, Dr Eva magazines, Yoga, Olympic magazine and more recently the Professional Weather Station offer. The Irish Daily Mail says it is looking forward to finding new ideas to increase sales and to continuing to work more closely with its retail partners in order to achieve these targets.
Meanwhile, Mail Online still continues to grow and is firmly placed as the world’s number one English-speaking newspaper website. With over 3,000,000 unique visitors in Ireland per month, it is still the number one destination for female entertainment engagement.
Evoke.ie launched over two years ago, strongly aimed at females aged 25-44. This is Ireland’s newest female lifestyle website with over 250,000 unique visitors per month.
DMG Media says it will continue to invest in its products, believing that the best quality news and sport content is the key for growing readership and to the newspaper’s websites throughout the next 12 months.
Independent News & Media
Selling some 1.2 million newspapers each week, Independent News & Media (INM) continues to dominate the Irish newspaper market. The latest ABC audit of newspaper sales in Ireland confirms the Sunday Independent as Ireland’s highest selling newspaper owning 64.7% of the quality Sunday market share (199,210); more than twice that of its nearest competitor. The Irish Independent, Ireland’s leading daily newspaper accounts for almost half of all sales (49.9%), selling 102,537 copies each day.
Developments and innovation
The strong performance of INM titles comes amid the continued innovation, development, and investment in the group’s product suite. INM’s products are constantly evolving to meet readers’ needs and expectations, while its premium products continue to drive the most footfall, sales, and revenue for newsagent partners nationwide.
Published Monday to Saturday, the Irish Independent continues to be Ireland’s biggest-selling and best-read daily newspaper; a news title which sets the agenda. Known for authoritative and trusted journalism, the Irish Independent, created by household name journalists, delivers the top news stories, latest sports coverage and informative features to readers nationwide.
The strong performance of the Irish Independent this year was bolstered by its acclaimed coverage of the Ireland 2016 commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising, agenda-setting analysis of Election 2016, and the resulting long negotiations on the formation of a new minority Government. For what was already a big year in sports, the Irish Independent repackaged and extended the broadsheet section from Saturday into Monday and went even bigger, while its leading sports writers continued to engage readers nationwide.
With its broad mix of magazines ranging from an increased size Farming Independent, enhanced Sport offering, Health & Living, Seachtain, Motors, Property, Connacht, Munster & Leinster Provincial Rugby supplements, Weekend magazine and Review, the title guarantees appeal across all audiences.
Added value offerings appealed to readers with voucher deals such as two-for-one offers across restaurants, beauty and golf at outlets nationwide. High end giveaways also engaged readers and drove sales for retailers, such as five star holiday packages, cash giveaways, and the recent €60,000 tractor and sprayer giveaway in the Irish and Sunday Independent.
It’s no surprise really that the Sunday Independent continues to dominate the market as Ireland’s most widely read newspaper. With just under a million readers weekly and over half a million people reading no other Sunday title, the strength of the title lies with the loyalty of its customers.
The Sunday Independent says it is invested in listening to its audience and finding out what it is that they want. In the last year alone, the company has increased its Business, Sport and Lifestyle offerings. The launch of Appetites proved hugely successful showcasing Rachel Allen, Susan Jane White and some of Ireland’s top foodies.
The business section sets the agenda for the week ahead, covering everything from personal finance, to SME advice, market trends and industry climates. The Media and Marketing page – edited by John McGee – has become essential reading in Sunday Business. From September, this section will be edited by leading business journalist Samantha McCaughren, who will take to the helm as Sunday Independent business editor.
As the pulse of the nation, conducting polls on Ireland’s most prominent topics, from budgets to referendums, The Sunday Independent shares the nation’s voice. The Sunday Independent offers readers that unique weekend experience, with some of the most renowned journalists in the country writing across a spectrum of matters; Joe Brolly, Brendan O Connor, Gene Kerrigan and Elis O’Hanlon to name but a few.
The Herald newspaper, celebrating 125 years in production this year, shows no signs of slowing as Dublin’s best-read daily newspaper. Published six days a week, it is the number one newspaper of choice in Dublin for under 35’s.
The Herald boasts an eclectic range of columnists that appeal to a range of readers including broadcaster Anton Savage, “girl about town” Holly Carpenter, Rosanna Davidson, Amanda Brunker, Anna Nolan and the Dubliner’s Diary with Melanie Finn.
The Herald has a strong affiliation with Leinster Rugby, GAA and soccer and constantly reviews and adapts its sport offering to appeal to its sports audience. Supplements such as Striker, Dublin GAA, School sports and Sports 72 allow The Herald to promote and support sport across the country from schoolboy level right up to county and professional games.
The Herald strives to provide its loyal readers with money saving offers for all the family including family days out, dining out, retail offers, two-for-ones, free flights and hotel stays.
For 43 years, the Sunday World has been the people’s paper. With the best celebrity TV glossy magazine, Sports World, My World and Sunday 2, the title offers shareable content for all the family.
Home of fearless crime reporting, stunning exclusives, investigations and exposés. The Sunday World is also renowned for special offers, competitions and reader giveaways.
One such giveaway was the well-received ‘Clash of the Clans’; a two part crime book written by award winning crime journalist Nicola Tallant, where a shocked nation came face to face with Gangland Ireland. The Herald also produced a scaled-down version of the smash-hit novel, ‘At War with a Nation’, written by Gerry Hunt, a brilliantly illustrated 68-page book on Ireland’s War of Independence.
Investigative journalism, expert commentary, household names, alongside amazing reader offers and promotions are just some of the items which make the Sunday World what it is: the people’s paper.
The value of research is paramount at INM. The organisation understands the important role research has to play, putting readers at the centre of the business. To better prepare for the changing advertising and media landscape, this year, the company focused on gaining a deeper understanding into its readers by gaining more customer insights. The new Customer Research Strategy, launched earlier this year, led to the most comprehensive research project that has been carried out to date in the media industry in Ireland, with over 13,000 face-to-face interviews with newspaper buyers, at the point of purchase, over a period of 12 months. Developed in association with Amárach Research, the study provides unique insights into the contemporary newspaper buyer market.
INM also wanted to establish how important the print channel was in the overall marketing mix, hence the commission of an Econometrics study; over three years of research across 20 million data points. This study was carried out in association with Ignite research. The data shows that the print channel continues to be a pivotal element in the marketing mix, delivering a significant return on investment across all key sectors.
This year has been an exciting one in terms of research. Across all studies, INM discovered some exceptional findings which help it to understand its clients and readers on a far deeper level than ever before. For example, research findings stated that 63% of newspaper buyers responded that they would shop elsewhere if their paper was not available in store.
Other key findings from INM research:
- 83% of Irish Independent newspaper readers buy the paper as often as they always did
- 57% of newspaper buyers buy something else in the shop
- A typical newspaper buyer spends €12 every time s/he buys a newspaper
- 55% of newspaper buyers purchase groceries with their newspaper
- In retail: Print advertising is up to 1.5 times more effective than radio advertising in delivering a return
- Every €1 spent in print advertising returns up to €39 for the retail industry
- 25% of all sales delivered by media are driven by print advertising
INM has a house of brands supported by its online platforms which present a fantastic opportunity to extend to an even wider audience. Independent.ie and Sundayworld.com allow the company to promote what is happening within printed titles to that wider audience. Newspapers provide a unique experience for readers in terms of long narrative and engagement and the company’s recent research shows that readers engage with INM titles more than any other – spending on average 70 minutes reading the Irish Independent, and 101 minutes reading the Sunday Independent against an industry average of just 66 minutes. The investment and evolution of INM’s online offering, including video-on-demand and podcasts, further engage audiences as they connect with titles through new mediums.
Independent News & Media’s national titles continue to offer superior value to newsagents nationwide, delivering more cash through the till than any other publications. Through substantial investment in added-value initiatives, complimented with strong marketing support, our titles strive to outperform the market and protect the value of the category in newsagents.
INM works daily with retail partners in delivering on joint business and category plans to protect and grow newspaper sales daily.
The ‘Off the Shelf’ category management programme has recently been launched in conjunction with the CSNA. At the core of the programme is working with local retailers in growing their newspaper category sale as a whole. Retailers who sign up to the programme receive value-based planograms, promotional campaigns specific to Independent Newspapers’ titles, additional POS and secondary points of purchase.
INM throughout the year has continually delivered added value retailer promotions to newsagents, forecourts and multiples such as Irish Independent book collections, retailer specific value added promotions like our ‘Free 500ml water’ and ‘Free Car Flag’ for Irish Independent purchasers at forecourt locations. Each of these promotions is targeted at driving additional sales through newsagents.
Jarlath Dolly is News Ireland’s audience manager for digital and print. Here he outlines how the titles in his company’s portfolio are currently performing. These include The Times Ireland edition, The Irish Sun, The Irish Sun Sunday and The Sunday Times.
In the period Jan-Jun 2016, the three national newspapers that recorded year on year growth are all News Ireland titles. The Irish Sun (60,689 copies) is up 5.2% in a daily market that declined by 5%, this resulted in The Irish Sun stretching its lead and growing market share in the mid/popular market in the Republic. The Irish Sun Sunday (58,176 copies) was the best performing Sunday title compared with the previous year (+9.7%), versus a Sunday market that declined over 6%, and The Sunday Times (77,238 copies) continues to be the quality newspaper of choice.
The Irish Sun is Ireland’s most-read daily tabloid as well as Ireland’s second-most-read daily newspaper (JNRS). The Irish Sun has a strong youth readership and leads the market on sport, entertainment and value. The Irish Sun went #Tournamental in the summer and invested heavily in supporting the Republic’s participation in European Championships. News Ireland offered unrivalled coverage to a much wider audience by halving the paper’s cover price to 50c for six weeks, and supporting this with television. The results of the activity were astounding, attracting lapsed readers back into the paper and also attracting new ones. Testament to the strength of The Irish Sun is the thousands of readers that have chosen to remain with the paper following its return to €1. At €1 seven days a week, The Irish Sun is the best value title in the market. Irish Sun readers have a huge appetite for giveaways and promotions, and readers can benefit from a range of successful value offers in the paper including SuperEuro – a promotion that offers a whole month of €1 deals from some of Ireland’s leading brands. It is also a strong footfall driver for retailers.
The Sunday Times is the leading quality Sunday broadsheet, encompassing wide-ranging sections including a portfolio of three magazines, delivering well-informed coverage of both Irish and international news. The Sunday Times continues to set the news agenda for the week ahead and performs particularly strongly among those who need to be in the know, the business community and opinion leaders. Recent coverage of Brexit drove significant sales increases, demonstrating that with events that matter, those who need to be well informed, seek access from THE quality newspaper. The Sunday Times has a higher proportion of ABC1 readers than any other title in the market and has an affluent, engaged audience. The Sunday Times delivers added value to readers across the year with a range of special supplements and free guides including travel guides, European Rugby Champions Cup guide, property guides and recipe booklets.
Complimented by online, The Sunday Times loyalty programme – Times Membership – continues to grow and reward loyal readers with access to the finest quality content online as well as free cinema screenings, ticket giveaways, restaurant deals and more. The Times Ireland edition and The Sunday Times is also available on tablet, bringing its world-class journalism to new audiences on new platforms. The Times Ireland edition is approaching one year since launch and the company is delighted with the results. The Times Ireland edition has broken some incredible stories and its subscribers have access to exclusive content and because it is digital, they can catch-up on what matters, at any moment.
The trade has also benefited from News Ireland titles, because the company has invested in print growth, through spending on content and also promotional activity. News Ireland pays 27.5% margin on The Irish Sun (the highest terms in the market) and during the 50c period for the Euro championships, it paid 55% margin. The incremental sale from the cover price activity delivered over €150,000 in additional profit to retailers in the Republic.
Mirror Media Ireland
Alan Kelly is audience manager for Mirror Media Ireland, consisting of the Irish Daily Mirror, Irish Sunday Mirror, irishmirror.ie and DublinLive.ie. Here, Kelly explains why he is proud of his group’s performance over the past year.
Latest circulation figures
The Irish Daily Mirror and the Irish Sunday Mirror have continued to perform robustly in the Irish tabloid market this year. From January to June of 2016, the Irish Daily Mirror sold an average of 38,294 copies every day, and The Irish Sunday Mirror enjoyed an average circulation of 26,551.
Product developments within the Mirror Media group over the past 13 months have been phenomenal, with the successful launch of two websites on the island of Ireland – BelfastLive.co.uk in April of last year, and DublinLive.ie which launched in March of this year. Both sites are breaking news 24/7, and offer the most up to date coverage on news, sport and showbiz, complete with live blogs and comprehensive picture galleries.
Irishmirror.ie has established itself as one of the leading news websites in Ireland. In addition, the mobile app and tablet versions of the Irish Daily Mirror are both innovative and interactive platforms, which have proved hugely popular with our readers.
Ingredients for success
Innovation has always been a key ingredient to success in this market. The company carries out extensive research with regard to its print and digital offerings, to keep abreast of the issues that matter most to readers. The content published needs to reflect these issues. The Mirror titles constantly respond to what their readers reveals about the content they want to consume, and in the format they desire. “We shall continue to invest and develop our print titles and digital platforms,” Kelly says, “as we aim to make our products an essential part of our readers daily routine.”
The Irish Daily Mirror’s readership is evenly balanced with 50.4% male and 49.6% female – whilst 55.6% of Irish Daily Mirror readers are aged 20-44. Irish Sunday Mirror readership is very similar at 48.1% male and 51.9% female – 50.8% aged 20-44*.
*(Source: TGI 2015)
The Mirror group has a consistent strategy for good quality, high-value online and offline promotional giveaways that serve to reward regular readers, and attract new readers. An example of this is the superb Slimming World magazines, which have run for the past few years to consistently increasing sales. In terms of online promotions, the ‘Superfan’ competition was launched on irishmirror.ie to engage with all the Irish fans posting their videos and pictures on social media at Euro 2016, with a cash prize of €1,000 for the best entries which were put into a gallery for the public to vote on. The level of entries and engagement was huge, and the eventual winner donated the prize money to charity. The company aims to offer promotions in the future that will excite and engage readers in the same way, as well as drive footfall for retail partners.
The Irish Daily Mirror has long maintained a healthy margin of 27.5% for its retail partners. There is no doubt that the support of the retail trade has been key to consolidating the group’s position as one of the top performing publishers in the highly competitive Irish market, and the company plans to work closely with them so as to maximize any future sales opportunities and increase revenue streams.
There is little doubt that the migration of readers from print to digital will continue to be a challenge over the coming years, as readers now consume content in a variety of different formats. Media is diverging and becoming more instant, and the digital era has changed the game forever. Innovation and new product development at Mirror Media Ireland will see that the titles remain at the forefront of Irish publishing, delivering award-winning in-depth news and content across a range of multi-media platforms.
Sunday Business Post
Since significantly outperforming the market in the first six months of 2016, the Sunday Business Post has increased its share of the Sunday quality newspaper market to 11.5%, with ABC sales of 31,364. The newspaper’s JNRS figures show it with a readership of 109,000, rising to 113,000 when its online audience is included. The readership’s gender split is 51% male, 49% female, with an age profile of 35-54. Furthermore, the Sunday Business Post continues to have one of the highest ABC1 reader profiles of any Sunday newspaper, at 75%.
The SBP’s share of the Sunday broadsheet market was up by 2% during the period, while sales of Sunday newspapers were down by 6.3% during the first half of this year. In short, The Sunday Business Post performed better than its rivals, recording just a 3.5% decline.
Ian Kehoe, The Sunday Business Post’s editor, took the time to outline his paper’s strengths, successes and plans for the future.
“The Sunday Business Post is an iconic publication, and everything we do as a business is underpinned by trust in the brand. Over the last three years the company has seen an incredible turnaround, with losses of €1.8m for the 18 months to June 2013 transformed into an €80,000 profit for the year to June 2015.
“And we are not just a publishing company, the SBP is a sales agent for TG4 and also runs exciting conferences and events.
With so much happening, it is little wonder the SBP was crowned Media Brand of the Year 2016 in April – the first national newspaper to be bestowed the prestigious title.
“This endorsement has been achieved through continually focusing on the quality of our content by hiring the best journalists in the country who produce top quality news and analysis. The appointment of Siobhan Lennon as commercial director has also led to significant growth in commercial revenues over the past three years.”
Plans to maintain and increase circulation
As noted earlier, the perception that print is dying is a misconception. Some 465,566 newspapers are sold each day in the Irish market, while on Sundays, an average of 669,557 papers are sold. Unlike other media, newspaper purchasers make a conscious decision to purchase a newspaper by actively walking into a shop.
It has become more crucial than ever to make a newspaper as convenient as possible for the consumer to purchase. Since June 2016 the Sunday Business Post has been double-dated and remains on the news stand on a Monday. The Sunday Business Post’s research and trial activity with key retailers around the country shows that leaving the paper on sale for the extra day will generate more sales each week – good news for everyone!
It as important as ever to ensure all newspapers are displayed prominently and properly. As an industry, the newspaper market pays a relatively high margin. Free sheets damage sales of paid-for titles and do not give retailers any margin, therefore, paid for titles like the Sunday Business Post should always be given prominence.
The Sunday Business Post is always exploring ways to use new products to engage and cater for its discerning audience.
The past 12 months have seen the launch of magazines and supplements such as:
- Invested: This publication offers advice on how to manage your savings and investments by learning what assets to invest in and what to avoid
- Luxury Life: The Sunday Business Post publishes this quarterly glossy magazine which showcases the very best of luxury items from around the country
- Ireland’s Hot 100 Start Ups magazine saw The Sunday Business Post round up Ireland’s business stars of the future
Complemented by online
In a rapidly changing industry, the SBP is increasingly looking to digital to increase its audience and appetite for its highly-respected and independent premium content. New significant developments in our digital offering are in the pipeline and due to go live, which will dramatically enhance the user-end experience for readers and continue to grow online subscriptions.
Key challenges facing newspapers
“At The Sunday Business Post, we don’t consider the rise of digital media a threat to our business,” says Kehoe. “Instead, it is an exciting new chapter in the evolution of our independent journalism. We believe that the perceived tension between print and digital is overstated. We are not ‘digital first’, we are ‘digital too’.
“What is paramount is the quality of our content, underpinned by an implicit understanding of the priorities and needs of our discerning audience,” he adds.
Of course, newspapers are operating in a tough market and the way people consume news is unrecognisable from even two years ago. More than 40% of Irish consumers gather their news from digital sources. However, in a crowded market, the noise can be deafening. To cut through the static requires authority, credibility and above all editorial independence, according to Kehoe.
“Our journalists have those qualities in spades,” he says, “allowing us to stand apart from aggregators who merely corral information that’s already out there.”
In closing, Ian Kehoe says all of these exciting developments won’t distract the Sunday Business Post from continuing to deliver premium content, irrespective of the platform.