Audience research: Vitals to grow your revenue


We often hear that media companies, especially print, are not doing much research, including audience and readership surveys. This includes important research on who reads and uses their print and digital products.

Some common reasons we hear why newspapers do not use research include:

  • Lack of budget.
  • No research or marketing department support.
  • No staff to analyze data and interpret research findings.
  • Low priority compared to other items.
  • Newspaper/media company too small to do research.
  • No need to, it's an expense.

Newspapers without research departments or corporate support can still conduct audience and readership surveys that provide valuable information for both the news and advertising departments. It does not need a large budget. The results can enhance credibility and generate revenue.

A key reason that research should be conducted, especially audience research: it adds to the bottom line – Revenue.

Print and digital advertisers are keenly interested in who reads newspapers and magazines and who visits websites. They also are interested in knowing who reads and uses niche products and even specialty products – like front-page sticky notes.

Research companies like Nielsen, Scarborough, Simmons Market Research, independent contractors and small research firms with media expertise in the newspaper industry can help.

The best way to begin, though, is for media and newspaper executives to determine clearly what they want to know and achieve with the research.

According to Research Director On Demand, these three objectives usually break down into the following areas:

  1. On the news side, publishers and editors want to know who is reading their newspapers both online and in print. They also want to know what parts of the newspaper, or its website, are being read.  This helps them adjust news coverage or add features/services.
  2. On the advertising side, sales directors and managers want market information and insights that can help their staff sell. They want to show that print and digital reach their clients' target demographics.
  3. The third objective is marketing – showing advertisers that readers are engaged in their newspaper and digital products for community news and information, including advertising and ad inserts.

Readership surveys prove that local newspapers aren't dead.

In fact, newspapers, whether print or digital, are still a very important and primary source for information. They're a storehouse of information that consumers can get when they need it.

That's something we have to keep reminding advertisers who are losing interest in print. Print is still an important vital source of producing customers for them as well.

In addition, it's important to remind advertisers that audience and market reach goes beyond just print readership as a selling point. It encompasses not just print readership, but a newspaper's website and its use of digital, email blasts and mobile devices. Newspapers are the voice of their communities, and together with digital, that audience turns into revenue.

Research companies, such as Research Director On Demand, offer specialized media services to fit your budget. For example, they offer newspaper readership and audience surveys, website usage, product-specific presentations (about readers and their buying habits, such as where they shop for furniture, their next new or used vehicle, real estate, major appliances, etc.).

Cost effectiveness is on the minds of researchers as well as publishers. Newspapers' existing databases put them ahead of the game. In a way, newspapers are fortunate because they (both large and small newspapers) have their own databases of subscribers and readers. From that, they can pull fairly good samples for audience research and surveys. That saves them a lot of money.

If you are interested in seeing some examples of the many research, sales sheets and presentations we have done, please contact us any time.

Ted Stasney
Senior Consultant
Research Director on Demand

(727) 244-2971
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