Campaign Report on the Top European Newspapers: Global publishers predict rosy future for newspapers - Far from being a dormant medium, newspapers are satisfying readers and advertisers

For sheer diversity, look no further than European newspapers. From the unique might of the British press, to the magnificent innovations of the Spanish regionals, here is a medium that offers more variety than any other. It is also enjoying more success in the rapidly changing media environment than it is sometimes credited with.

For sheer diversity, look no further than European newspapers. From

the unique might of the British press, to the magnificent innovations of

the Spanish regionals, here is a medium that offers more variety than

any other. It is also enjoying more success in the rapidly changing

media environment than it is sometimes credited with.



In recent years, the main concern has been falling sales, but since 1992

newspaper sales in Western Europe have declined by less then 1 per cent

a year. In France, Germany and the UK, the decline has been considerably

less than that. The majority of newspaper titles in the UK are showing

circulation increases. In Spain and Portugal, sales are rising

dramatically.



In Ireland, the indigenous titles are growing despite an influx of

cheaper UK newspapers. In the Netherlands, too, the market is

expanding.



Newspaper sales appear to be healthier than the average TV or radio

audience figures. Traditional media are all suffering from diminished

interest as people turn to a wider range of leisure alternatives. At a

time when broadcast audiences are being tempted by a plethora of new

services, the newspaper audience appears reasonably stable. New-media

services - such as the Internet and CD-Roms - appear to be taking

audience from broadcast media rather than print.



Publishers have good reason to be optimistic - not only do they dominate

the content of these new options, but they also have a host of more

exciting and positive issues on their priority list. The first is focus.

In the UK, we are preconditioned to the strength of national, rather

than local, newspapers. But in this we are unique. In the majority of

European markets, the newspapers offer a largely regional service.



In France, for example, where the media scene is considerably smaller

than our own, with advertising per GDP at half the UK level, the print

medium is dominated by local newspapers - which outsell the national

press by three to one - and weekly magazines.



As for Scandinavia, where newspapers are even more popular than they are

in the UK, geography precludes the value of national media and local

newspapers are truly dominant. Even in the South, where newspaper

superiority declines as the weather improves, the medium has a primarily

local base.



Media buyers seek the biggest or the best-focused solution. Whether

geographically or demographically positioned, the newspaper medium

increasingly provides a better one-off hit than any alternative.



Then there is tailored content. Contemporary newspapers provide more

than a record of events - they’re increasingly proactive and

interactive.



Continental readers want their newspaper to get things done. They want

relevance and material value. The subsequent quest to deliver has a

knock-on effect on the advertising environment as publishers strive to

satisfy better-defined interest subsets within their audience with

tailored supplements and sections.



Third, there is marketing. The objectives vary from Northern Europe,

where newspaper sales are primarily subscription-based, to the

Mediterranean, where single-copy sales are universal. Thankfully, the

days are long gone when bingo, or some other equally inane bribe,

offered a short-term attraction.



Readers can now enjoy real benefits, with the increased use of clubs and

special offers. There are loyalty cards, often in partnership with

retailers or financial institutions. Partworks are also part of the

armoury. All of these tactics provide advertisers with an opportunity to

get closer to their target audience.



The message in all this is that as marketers increasingly shift their

spend across the line, newspapers offer a wider range of marketing

solutions, either close to the point of purchase, or through a direct

link with the reader.



Globalisation is a developing issue. An increasing number of newspapers

are available in countries outside their own. More and more newspapers

are producing international editions, and the market for international

advertising in these titles is now gathering a critical mass. This will

be an important area of growth and opportunity during the next few years

and, given the universality of the English language, the UK has a unique

advantage.



Which leads me to the final, and trickiest, issue - diversification (or

as one cautious publisher insists I call it, ’controlled growth’). The

recent World Forum of Newspapers Strategy, organised by the World

Association of Newspapers, brought together 50 leading publishers from

around the world to discuss the future. The debate was dominated by the

question of distribution channels. There is broad agreement that demand

for information and the enabling of transactions can only accelerate in

the future, but what will change is the means of distribution, which is

currently dominated by newsprint.



The outcome, however, will be the greater polarisation of audience,

along with content and service requirements. From the advertisers’

perspective, this will enable them to focus far more clearly on their

audience and the offer, but the means of doing so will be very

different.



Traditional advertising is undergoing a period of dramatic change.

Evolution, not extinction, is on the cards. The newspaper industry knows

all about this. And the newspapers of Europe are better placed to

deliver this brave new world than any other medium.



Advertising Expenditure Breakdown by Medium (% of Display Adspend for

1996)

                 News-   Magazines     TV   Radio   Cinema   Outdoor

                papers

Finland           63.3        11.6   18.4     4.1      0.1       2.5

France            25.0        23.4   31.2     7.7      0.6      12.0

Germany           51.2        21.0   19.1     4.0      1.0       3.7

Greece            14.2        16.0   61.5     5.3      0.0       3.1

Austria           44.2        19.3   20.5     9.6      0.4       6.0

Belgium           27.7        28.2   27.5     7.5      1.1       8.1

Denmark           63.2        14.2   18.1     1.6      0.7       2.2

Ireland           63.6         3.9   21.2     7.0      0.3       3.9

Italy             27.1        21.3   47.5     1.3      0.0       2.8

Netherlands       44.2        23.8   16.8     3.3      0.4      11.6

Norway            66.1        14.0   12.9     3.6      1.1       2.4

Portugal          18.1        18.7   49.3     6.1      0.0       7.7

Spain             29.7         8.9   51.1     6.2      0.7       3.3

Sweden            67.4        11.7   15.1     0.3      0.6       4.8

Switzerland       58.3        17.3    8.1     2.6      1.0      12.6

Turkey            45.0         6.9   47.8     0.1      0.2       0.0

United Kingdom    29.1        17.5   42.6     4.7      0.9       5.1



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