In a world that’s increasingly going digital, it seems surprising that many people still start the day with a cup of coffee and a rifle through a print newspaper.
Newspapers are often thought to be favoured by older generations, and there is a widely held belief that younger generations do not read the news because digital is their preferred medium. Most just casually assume that millennials and Gen Z spend the majority of their time on social media platforms, and that this is their go-to destination for almost anything – whether it’s news, search, product news or general information.
However, according to a recent study commissioned by ThinkNewsBrands, newspapers are making a comeback with younger generations, and increasingly having an influence not only in terms of news value, but also for marketers looking to reach important demographics.
Contrary to popular belief, it appears that Australians’ reading of the news is growing, and that readership is high across all age groups – including those hard to reach under 40s. It appears that while younger generations may begin their days on social media, they also read the news in print newspapers or online.
According to the study, of the 20.4 million Australians who read the news every month, 42 per cent of that audience is under 40. And news engages more Australians under 40 each week than any other medium, including Facebook.
In addition, almost three in every five under 40s get their news from a newspaper, either online or offline. News consumption is also increasing among this demographic, with the study reporting an increase in dwell time to 86 minutes in 2021, up from 63 minutes in 2019.
Looking at the under 40s in Australia, 94 per cent read the news each month, with that group including 96 per cent of 25-to-39-year-olds, as well as 91 per cent of 14-to-24-year-olds, suggesting high engagement across the age groups.
In comparison to other media, 85 per cent of the younger demographic audience is more confident when they see a brand or product in a news context. They generally believe that newspapers are trustworthy and unbiased news sources, and there is greater confidence in them when compared to the information available on social media platforms.
The consumption of overall news including print and online has seen steady growth from younger generations over the last few years. The concentration involved in reading the news is higher in general than other channels, which results in a better recall of the things read compared to browsing on social media.
When it comes to unprompted recall, the study suggests that ads are almost three times stickier on news than on Facebook. Moreover, brand recognition is 78 per cent in print and video news, compared to 64 per cent on Facebook.
All this makes for thought-provoking reading in a world where the marketing budgets of brands are often heavily inclined towards digital channels, especially social media when connecting with youth audiences.
ThinkNewsBrands’ GM Vanessa Lyons put it succinctly when she said: “This research is a wake-up call for marketers: investing heavily in social media advertising isn’t the answer you’ve been led to believe”.
Along these lines, the report may serve as a reminder to marketers to consider newspapers when establishing their media buying strategies, as they are resurfacing as a key medium for reaching out to all generations, not just the older ones. This is especially relevant as newspaper ads seemingly have better retention statistics compared to ads on digital platforms.
The effectiveness of marketing in these channels could also be reinforced by the issue of trust. The study revealed that for 33 per cent of 18-34-year-olds, newspapers were the most trusted source of information, but this dipped slightly to 28 per cent for those over the age of 35.
When taken as a whole, the study suggests that print newspapers still have a valuable place in society, and their online versions benefit from the residue of trust and reliability that the printed editions have built up over the decades.
For all the talk of a digital world, this longevity gives print news strength. As we have seen with COVID and various political issues, when doubt surfaces, newspapers in general are recognised as sources of reliable information. This is good for society as a whole, and of course, for marketers too as a reliable space in which to do business. It seems that newspapers are finally finding their place in the digital world.