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While the latest JNRS report shows national all adult readership for papers has fallen overall, readership of daily papers remains relatively consistent
13 October 2008 | 0
In recent years, much debate has surrounded whether the newspaper will become redundant in future as it increasingly faces competition from freesheets and online content. From a retailer’s point of view, will customers still come into a shop for their news, buying all-important impulse purchases at the same time? Or can they readily access as much news as they need elsewhere?
Interestingly, a study by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) defied the conventional logic that people could get their news online ‘instead’ of buying the print version, by suggesting that if people increasingly viewed newspaper content online, this would not necessarily have a negative impact on the probability of them buying the print edition.
The WAN study in the US showed that newspaper website users also read the print edition, with 81% of online newspaper readers also reading a printed newspaper at least once a week. Half of those surveyed said they spend the same time as they did previously with newspaper content, while 35% said they spend more time overall with newspaper content.The same survey showed that newspaper audiences grew 8% through a combination of print and online in 2007.
Latest JNRS shakes up the establishment
The latest Joint National Readership Survey (JNRS) report shows that whilst Associated Newspapers (Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail) have had a mixed bag in this report, Independent Newspapers have had a poor set of results.
According to JNRS, “The Irish Independent has dropped its adult readership from 17% to 14% comparing the latest 2007/08 readership survey to the previous 2006/07 book. The Star experienced a small lift but the Irish Daily Mail has recorded a credible 4% readership in this its first JNRS report, whilst The Irish Mirror experienced a lift from 5% to 6%.”
The JNRS results also suggest that the combination of aggressive promotion and discounted cover price has worked well for the Irish Daily Mail and that they appear to have lured readers away from the Irish Independent. The Irish Independent Weekend Magazine has fared worse, with its adult readership dropping from 19% to 14%.
Sunday Newspaper readership, now at 72% of all adults, has reached its lowest point in the last number of years. The time pressures of a fast moving economy, the growing penetration of online and increased entertainment options are presumably eating into the traditional Sunday morning reading time. Independent newspapers again took a hit, dropping from 30% to 28.6% amongst all adults.
The most disappointing news must be, however, for Associated Newspapers who re-branded Ireland on Sunday to the Mail on Sunday a number of years ago. In the last book for Ireland on Sunday, 2005/06, they had a 12% all adult readership but in the 2007/08 book – the first for the re-branded Mail on Sunday readership has dropped dramatically to under 7%.
Finally there was some good news in the Evening market for the Independent Newspapers number crunchers. The Evening Herald, which for some time appeared to be in terminal decline, has stabilised in this report with an 8% all adult readership result. However interestingly enough Independent Newspapers’s online property, Independent.ie has seen steady growth over the past year, leading to speculation about a shift from off-line to online readership.
The Irish Times
Q&A with Fran Walsh, Circulation Sales Director
What are the latest circulation figures for the Irish Times?
From January to June 2008, the circulation figure was 118,259 copies and this rose from 0.1% during the same period in 2007. The paper currently has a readership of 319,000 readers of which 52.7% are male and 47.3% are female.
What is the age profile of Irish Times readers?
Figures according to JNRS figures for 2007/2008:
15 to 18: 2.2%
19 to 24 6%
25 to 34 18.5%
35 to 44: 20.7%
45 to 54 19.4%
57 to 64 16.6%
And according to JNRS figures also, 44.5% of Irish Times readers are of the AB socio-economic group, while 38.6% belong to the C1 group, giving the paper a combined ABC1 readership of 83.1%.
How successful was the paper’s ‘rebrand’ earlier this year?
The Irish Times launched a ‘refresh campaign’ in March 2008. This involved new supplements being added to the paper during the week. A photographic supplement entitled Gallery was added on a Monday. On Tuesday, the existing Health Supplement was converted into a tabloid format with new content being added. The Motoring supplement was also converted into tabloid format. On Wednesday, the Sports supplement was expanded so that it included main sporting news along with coverage on school sports such as rugby and golf. On Saturday, we added a new travel supplement entitled Go and we also added pages to food, wine and recipes. We also added pages across the week with extra editorial. This was accompanied by a major TV, radio and outdoor advertising campaign. We also used sampling, from which we received a very good response. This showed the two ‘big winners’ to be the Travel and Health supplements. However across the week, all new material was received well with no negative feedback. The Irish Times is constantly being revised and enhanced in line with changing trends however, and there may yet be further changes in content, style and fonts.
Does online readership complement and attract more readers for the paper format, or detract from traditional paper sales?
Originally the Irish Times had a ‘paywall’ on its website; Ireland.com, where readers had to subscribe to view material. However the paper was reintroduced earlier this year on the website Irishtimes.com, with Ireland.com becoming a separate website, with no relationship to the paper. Irishtimes.com can be viewed freely [although readers must pay to view archived material.] The online version has added features, different content; rather than being exactly the print copy online. It is updated throughout the day rather than just being a replica of the paper format, although there is an online link where readers can view the paper online as it would appear in print.
The effect on sales has been difficult to quantify. During summer, the economy has taken a decline in summer months to the early weeks in September, with retailers having fewer impulse FMCG purchases, when newspapers would also be bought. However, certainly, the increase of online traffic has not caused a decline in print sales, that is anywhere near the recorded uptake of online material.
Also for retailers, 95% of our sales are actively purchased, compared to the Irish Independent were 87% of sales were actively purchased, We also have much fewer bulk sales than the Irish Independent. The latest
ABC figures show we had regular bulk sales of 4,092, whereas the Irish Independent’s regular bulk sales totalled 18,115.
Of issue-specific bulk sales, this accounted for 2,026 and 1,927 for the Irish Times and Irish Independent respectively. Our trade terms are also generous; overall we have delivered over €13.8m in profit to retailers. With one of the higher cover prices of €1.80, we offer retailers a big margin and have much enhanced retailers’ profits.
The Irish Daily Star
Q&A with circulation manager, Gavin O’Leary
With the Irish Daily Star increasing its circulation by 3.2% from 10,6066 to 10,9413 in the first six months of this year, and the latest JNRS report also showing that the Star increased its readership from 12.3% in 2005/6 to 13.10% in 2007/8, we caught up with circulation manager Gavin O’Leary to discover more about how the paper achieved this success. We also found out about the paper’s popular ‘Mystery Shopper’ promotion.
How did the newspaper achieve its recent growth?
There are two reasons for this. The first reason was that we retained a lot of the gains we made last year. In the second six months of last year we had a number of outstanding high-profile news stories such as the Joe O’ Reilly murder trial, the disappearance of Maddie McCann and the tragic death of Katie French. These stories helped increase the base number of people buying our paper over that period. And the numbers show that they liked what they saw because they kept buying the paper this year.
The second reason for the increase in sale can be attributed to our price increase at the start of the year. All of this new revenue was re-invested back into the product with new columnists added, bigger paginations and quality offerings such as our Premier League booklet and Sex and The City special edition of Star Chic for our readers. The lift in sale has also led to a lift in readership.
By contrast, according to ABC figures, the Star’s Sunday edition declined by 2%, from 62,632 in 2007 to 61,376 in Ireland. Why is this and how does the newspaper plan to grow its Sunday readership?
This was a great result when you consider the difference in the number of promotional offerings in our Sunday edition for the two periods. In 2007 we had 18 free offerings (either CDs/DVDs) which artificially spiked our sale. Compare this to just four promotional offerings we had for the same period this year. So, although our sales for 2008 versus 2007 are marginally down, our core sale has actually increased massively.
In an effort to further increase our Sunday sales we have improved the product with a re-launch of our Sunday magazine. Before re-launch we noticed that there were 21 weekly magazines in the Sunday market, all of which were aimed at females. We decided to give the reader something different so we launched a men’s lifestyle magazine.
The re-launch took place in May and has been a fantastic success. The base sale of the paper has increased by over 12% since then and it is now the third highest-selling Sunday red-top in Ireland.
Star Mystery Shopper – it pays to display!
Newsagent Noel Kelly from Monasterevin and paper manager Sonia Kelly, each won €100 as part of ‘The Star Mystery Shopper – It Pays to Display’ competition. The Irish Daily Star celebrated recent increases in both circulation and readership figures by launching the It Pays to Display competition. A Mystery Star Shopper visited newsagents nationwide and the 10 newsagents with the most prominently displayed position of The Star each received a cheque for €100 to €200 for the newsagent owner, and €100 for the paper manager.
Circulation manager Gavin O’Leary said “The Star gives the biggest cash margin in the tabloid market, so this competition was designed to remind retailers that it always pays to display The Star in a prominent position.
“What’s more, The Star promotions are available to all newsagents, driving footfall for all retailers. We don’t believe in restricting ourselves to a particular retail group, unlike some of the UK tabloids. With 460,000 people reading our newspaper every day, every retailer is important to us.”
The Star has recently launched a strong Autumn package with supplements such as Target (The Star’s Junior Soccer pullout) and Feverpitch (The Star’s Premier League pullout) expected to drive even more newsstand sales in September. Both supplements have been supported by nationwide TV and radio campaigns.
Other winners of The Star’s Mystery Shopper competition were Londis, Stoneyford Kilkenny; Fresh Opportunities, Camden St, Dublin; Duffry Stores, Enniscorthy; Hollands, Salthill, Galway; Mountgrove Centra, Dundrum, Dublin; McInerney Supervalue, Loughrea; O’Donovan’s Newsagency, Listowel; Corner House, Westport; and Murph’s Shop, Shannon.
The Irish Daily Mirror
According to the latest figures, the Irish Daily Mirror sells an average of 70,682 copies every day – a no change year on year performance and a marginal increase in market share over the same period. The title also added 36,000 readers over the past twelve months of JNRS scrutiny, the greatest percentage growth in the daily tabloid industry.
Joanne McGreevy, mirror group Ireland’s General Manager, agreed that it’s a challenging time for the newspaper industry and that a genuine connection with readers and a thorough understanding of their needs is what drives the Irish Mirror’s encouraging performance.
“In the face of a challenging economic environment and continuing media convergence, the Irish Mirror has a stable of readers with an envious loyalty to the paper and it’s our ongoing aim to exceed what their expectations are from a newspaper. Dedicated market research and the development of a reader panel has ensured we have constant communication with our readers and can consistently deliver a product that they help shape.”
“Our daily average readership of 219,000 includes an increased solus readership of 125,000, a 30% increase in female readers, and a 57% increase in readers aged 25 to 34; a pleasing performance following the recent redesign of the title and improved specific editorial offerings for these categories.”
“The Irish Mirror’s famous sports coverage and crusading news agenda will continue to be a cornerstone of what we stand for but so also will be some genuinely exciting reader promotions – delivering tangible added value to our readers – but importantly, they will be promotions that are in keeping with the Irish Mirror’s brand values.”
The Irish Daily Mail
Q&A with David Vaz, Circulation Manager of Associated Newspapers Ireland
The latest JNRS report shows the Irish Daily Mail has recorded a credible 4% readership, how has the paper managed to achieve this?
Our paper clearly offers something different to what is currently in the marketplace. Since launch just over two and half years ago the paper has grown impressively. Our editorial features and feature writers Fiona Looney, Brenda Power, Tom Doorley and Richard Waghorne to name but a few have clearly struck a cord with the public and speak to them and for them in a way other papers in the market clearly do not. This, coupled with our daily feature supplements, our free You Magazine every Saturday, fantastic sports coverage and wonderful CD and DVD promotions means we offer our readers an unbeatable package and fantastic value.
How important has promotion and a discounted cover price been in achieving this readership? Do you think the paper has succeeded in attracting readers from other national titles as the JNRS suggest?
Any promotional item plays a role in sampling of the product and the heavy activity that we have undertaken has helped us to increase our sales and has therefore been significant in achieving our readership figures.
The JNRS report also shows that all adult readership of national titles is down – is that a worrying trend for those in the industry?
86.2% of the population still reads a national newspaper. The Irish Daily Mail has enjoyed an increase of 12% in the recent JNRS survey and this is encouraging in a market place where the trend has been down.
How important is it that the paper is shown to cover a broad range of Irish coverage – as opposed to being perceived as a UK title in Ireland?
We produce a newspaper in Ballsbridge with a dedicated local team producing the best of local, national and international news the same as any other newspaper in this market.
What is the profile of the Irish Daily Mail readership?
The Irish Daily Mail is the favoured paper of main shoppers. Through our editorial and promotional content we manage to speak to these readers like no other paper.
How well has You Magazine performed?
Free every Saturday with the Irish Daily Mail our readers love You magazine, with its celebrity and fashion features, recipes and interiors sections as well as health advice and much, much more all printed on superb quality silk paper many have said that it offers everything that a paid for magazine does. Recently it was voted ‘Supplement of the Year’ and we believe it is only a matter of time until more people realise what a fantastic magazine it is.
Independent News & Media
Paula Murphy, group marketing director, Independent News & Media, gives a rundown of how the group’s three titles – the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent and Evening Herald – have performed of late.
The latest ABC figures for the group’s three titles are: The Irish Independent 159,363, Sunday Independent 283,024, and Evening Herald 79,447.
The latest readership figures for the titles are the Irish Independent 508,000, Sunday Independent 972,000 and Evening Herald, 317,000.
Critical success factors
The Irish Independent is Ireland’s leading quality daily newspaper thanks to a combination of insightful news analysis, in-depth sports coverage, Ireland’s best known and respected journalists and commentators. In addition to the huge range and depth of content in the paper, supplements also include Weekend Magazine, Irish Independent Farming, Day & Night and glossy Property Plus, all combining to make the Irish Independent the clear number one choice. Uniquely the Irish Independent is available in both compact and broadsheet format to meet the needs of customers.
The Evening Herald continues to enjoy an unrivalled position in Dublin as the best read newspaper in the capital, bar none. News coverage of the events that really matter to Dublin, unrivalled sports coverage including top-class access to Dublin GAA and Leinster Rugby, Dublin’s bible every Thursday in HQ magazine, plus the best entertainments section around.
Irish Independent has 508,000 all adult readers every day, or 14% of all readership. 280,000 ABC1 readers, with 279,000 main shoppers. The Irish Independent is Ireland’s only truly national paper with readership throughout the country.
The Evening Herald has 317,000 all adult readers every day or 9% of all readership. The loyalty of Dublin to the title is borne out by the 261,000 daily readers in Dublin, with 187,000 main shoppers.
In terms of maintaining and growing readership, both the Irish Independent and the Evening Herald have a policy of content related activity and promotional support, based around events, sport, reader offers and so on. Currently the Irish Independent is running a very successful book promotion called Disney’s Wonderful World of Knowledge, and the Evening Herald has finished a holiday offer for readers.
Overall readership of newspapers continues to be one of the healthiest in Europe and despite some slight decline in this JNRS Ireland remains a nation loyal to the daily newspaper.
Undoubtedly, the newspaper industry like many others faces multiple challenges, including readers who are short on time, cost increases, and competitive challenges. However, the Irish newspaper market is one of the most competitive in the world.
The Irish Sun
Q & A with Jarlath Dolly, All Ireland circulation manager for News International Newspapers
The Jan-June ABC for The Irish Sun is 103,673 copies average per day, making the paper the biggest selling daily tabloid in the Republic of Ireland. In light of this we decided to catch up with Circulation Manager, Jarlath Dolly to find out more about the paper’s success.
What are the main ingredients of the Irish Sun’s successful formula?
Market leadership was achieved by constantly improving the product through investing in locally based editorial staff, marketing, promotion, infrastructure (in the form of our print centre in Kells, Co.Meath) and the support of the retail trade. In recognition of how important the retailers are to our business we support the trade by offering the most generous trade terms and by selling all of our papers through them. All of our circulation is full rate, actively purchased.
Who reads the Irish Sun?
People’s perceptions of Irish Sun readers are generally well wide of the mark, 70% of our readers are under 45 and 43% are female.
How does the paper plan to maintain and increase its circulation?
We intend to continue investing in The Irish Sun through branding (we are currently running an outdoor campaign highlighting the value the paper delivers) and editorial are constantly improving the content on offer to the consumer. We are asking our customers what they want from their paper and innovating our product to maximise its appeal.
Will you be offering any promotions?
The Irish Sun has always promoted extensively to attract new readers and reward loyal ones and we will continue to do so.
The latest JNRS survey shows that overall readership of national newspapers is down – is this a worrying trend and how can it be counteracted?
This trend is indeed worrying for many titles in the market; however, The Irish Sun was an exception and actually increased readership in the last survey.
What are the main challenges facing the newspaper industry at the moment and how do you plan to counteract these?
The most significant challenge facing the industry is confidence. Publishers need to have enough faith in their products to invest for the future. News International are investing heavily in plant and machinery to deliver full colour in our products from next year and are continuing to invest across our Irish operation to drive the business forward.
Jarlath Dolly has been All Ireland Circulation Manager for News International which includes The Irish Sun, Irish News of the World, The Times, and The Sunday Times within its portfolio, for the past five years and has worked at News International for 12 years in total.