New study shows the newspaper industry confidence continues to rise

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According to the 2017 HubCiti Publishers' Confidence & Technology Report, the overall confidence in the sustainability of the local and regional newspaper industry is getting stronger amid new technologies and digital strategies. A full 70 percent of publishers surveyed believe digital services is necessary, with nearly 50 percent planning to implement in the next six months. Consumers of news continue to use the internet as the dominant source for content delivery, but with an increase of more than 10 percent from last year, mobile apps have now become the top method for digital news delivery.

"The new survey shows a definitive movement towards a more modern, digital strategy for news distribution among our local and regional publishers," stated Roy Truitt, CEO of HubCiti. "Implementing digital is now a must-have – compared to a competitive advantage. Training traditional sales staff to focus on digital and finding the right partners to implement new technology will determine how well publishers will meet market and consumer expectations."

Among the key findings:

Publishers Report

  • 42.2 percent of respondents believe that the publishing industry is getting stronger – an 8.8 percent increase over last year.
  • 90 percent of publisher respondents rank print ads and classifieds as very important to revenue generation. Respondents ranked subscriptions and website as second and third, with 69 percent and 67 percent. (Almost the same as 2016.)
  • Implementing a mobile app marked the greatest increase in perceived revenue generation capability (13 percent) over the next 12 months.
  • For those publishers that currently have digital services, the majority (49.2 percent) manage them with a combination of both third-party and in-house teams. However, pure outsourced or third-party management increased by 20 percent over 2016.
  • 68.1 percent of survey respondents believe that implementing digital services could increase their revenue – nearly a 5 percent increase over 2016. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed plan to implement in the next six months.
  • Respondents ranked their website, mobile app and video as the top focus for digital service strategy – with 26.7 percent, 26.1 percent and 20.6 percent, respectively.
  • For those planning to implement new technology this year, 60 percent plan to hire a third-party firm for those services compared to making full time in-house hires.

News Consumer Report

  • Consumer respondents stated that they mainly received their local news from internet news aggregators (33.1 percent) and TV (31.4 percent), with specific newspaper websites being the lowest, at 4.7 percent.
  • More consumers (35.6 percent) are willing to search for specific online content compared to reading a digital version of print content.
  • A mobile app is now the most preferred source of digital news due to an increase of 10.1 percent from the last survey – putting it slightly above traditional websites.
  • Only 6.7 percent of respondents stated they had a high tolerance for watching an ad to read an article or watch a video, compared to 30.1 percent that would not watch an ad at all.
  • 52.5 percent of consumer respondents said they would not pay for special digital content.
  • When asked what kind of content besides news they'd like delivered to them, respondents chose traffic and weather updates as the top option with 45.8 percent and restaurant specials as second, with 19.5 percent.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States from Jan. 8-12, Jan. 16-20, Jan. 26-31 and Feb. 2-6, 2017, among 562 adults ages 18 and older, of which 185 were directly employed in newspaper publishing. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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