Reports of the Death of the Newspaper are Greatly Exaggerated (at least for local marketers)

Amanda Knauer Written by: Amanda Knauer

It’s time to bust out the funeral clothes and get the tissues ready. That’s right, rumor has it that our longtime friend, the newspaper, has died.

Not so fast -- local marketers are disagreeing. In fact, local marketers see newspapers as being very much alive.

With the digital space growing so rapidly, it’s easy to assume that the marketing relevance of newspapers is dwindling. Maybe for the big guys, but don’t forget about where newspapers all started: locally.

Why are local marketers a fan of newspapers? And why do newspapers still work for them? We spoke to some experts, crunched some numbers and even talked to the local marketers themselves. Here’s what we found:

The experts agree: newspaper advertising is still effective.

Lauren McAdams, Manager of Local Marketing and Media at Brandmuscle, says newspapers are still extremely beneficial for local marketers.

“Although newspapers are decreasing in circulation, they are still widely trusted and used by local consumers. Advertisers are able to reach small towns and target very specific geographic locations. In fact, 67 percent of residents in small U.S. communities read local newspapers at least once a week.” (Source: Nielsen, September 2015)

McAdams said there are several other benefits to using newspaper advertising:

  • It’s great for merchandising and promotional advertising
  • It reaches older and ethnic audiences (as well as other specific demographics who read niche publications)
  • It has a high single-day reach, meaning many people will see it on a specific day
  • It allows for budget flexibility


As for the future, McAdams says newspapers and other print mediums such as direct mail and local magazines will still be highly effective – but they will come with a catch.

“In order to make print advertising more effective, it’s important to look at marketing campaigns from a holistic point of view and determine how print best fits into the advertiser’s overall objectives.  The most successful programs usually pair two traditional media tactics or integrate with digital components to make sure they reach the right audience.”

The voice of the local marketer: “Newspaper advertising still works.”

Our State of Local Marketing Report dives deep into traditional media, evaluating its challenges and opportunities as well as how national brands can structure distributed traditional marketing programs.When looking at newspaper advertising specifically, our report found that 73 percent of local marketers use it and of those, 65 percent are satisfied*. Although this is below average, the numbers still show that nearly half of local marketers are satisfied with newspapers – which begs the question-– how can newspapers be dead?

So, why do local marketers love newspapers so much? Because it’s just that: local.

Newspaper audiences are targeted and proactive, meaning readers often look for--and expect-- deals and coupons. This kind of acquisition-based advertising leads consumers directly to a location with the ad in hand so they're easier to track. Additionally, advertising in newspapers doesn’t seem intrusive compared to pop-up and native digital ads, which can lead to a more positive reputation for the brand.

Still don’t believe us? Take it from the local marketers themselves:

“Newspaper and magazine advertising does the best for us; we run ads frequently and we see direct response from them.”


“We advertise every other week in our local paper and customers mention the ads repeatedly when they come to the stores.”


“We have people bringing in the ad from the newspaper. The local paper is very popular in our city.”


 “Our best tactic is newspaper editorials reviewing our business followed by newspaper coupons.  Our market reads the paper.  The editorials lend credibility and brand awareness, the coupons capitalized on it.”


Our opinion? National brand managers should step back and ask: how can advertising in local and hyperlocal newspapers fit into a comprehensive marketing plan?  Newspaper advertising isn’t going anywhere, at least not for the local guys.

What is your opinion on newspaper advertising? Is it still as alive as local marketers see it? Let us know in the comments below!

*For an explanation of the Satisfaction scoring index, download a complimentary copy of the State of Local Marketing Report.

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