Champion of print

Editor Q+A, News Make a Comment

AUCKLAND, Today: “The numbers speak for themselves,” says Stuff GM of Newspapers Ben Rose. “With millions of New Zealanders enjoying, trusting and supporting print, it’s a channel that marketers overlook at their peril.” In this short Q+A, Rose mounts a stirring defence of the power of print, and reminds us it remains a preferred news medium for nearly 2 million Kiwis …

What are your impressions of print as a medium, since having joined Stuff earlier this year?
Not so long ago, print ruled the world, with newspapers being the primary source of news and information for consumers. However, the rapid rise of mobile and technology has reshaped the way we create and consume information. This, in turn, has significantly impacted the entire media sector – not just print titles. 

However, reports on the death of print have been greatly exaggerated. Print isn’t dying; it’s adapting to satisfy the needs of consumers, and adjusting to the changes in the media landscape. 

My role as general manager of newspapers at Stuff was created to ensure that our nationwide print portfolio remains vibrant and relevant to New Zealanders – and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the significant scale of readership and subscription as well as the response we’re getting from New Zealand advertisers.

Given those changes in media consumption habits, then what role (if any) does print media have to play?
Despite those changing media consumption habits, print and digital shouldn’t be seen as existing in opposition to one another – when in fact they serve equally important, and complementary purposes for a significant proportion of our consumers. 

Digital is fantastic for the level of immediacy, shareability and personalisation it offers – there’s no denying that – and for advertisers, it offers a degree of targeting that print simply can’t. 

But print titles continue to play a critical role in the news mix for a huge number of consumers – they offer an unrivalled curated experience, bringing the most impactful and in-depth news together in a format that people love to ponder over as they have their morning cup of coffee.

The nation has a long love affair with print titles like ours, that have been shaping the agenda since the 1860s. 

Figures released by Nielsen in January 2019 support the argument that print is still highly relevant – with around 2.5 million Kiwis reading newspapers on a weekly basis, and 1.7 million of us continuing to view newspapers as our most trusted source of news and information. 

Given the fact that declining newspaper circulations have been an issue for a number of years, what is Stuff doing to address this?
We’re always working to ensure our loyal subscribers and readers are getting the sort of content they want most from our papers, which means continuously reviewing our formats and layouts to make sure we’re hitting the right mix of sports, politics, business and entertainment (among other themes) for example.  

But we’re also working to ensure marketers and media agencies do not underestimate the power of print. We need to shift the focus from what will happen to print one distant day in the future, to its power to deliver what marketers need today. 

Print advertising is critical to funding the essential local journalism that keeps our communities, government, and businesses accountable – so the two work streams go hand in hand. 

Why is print still an important medium for advertisers to communicate their message?
The numbers speak for themselves. With millions of New Zealanders enjoying, trusting and supporting print, it’s a channel that marketers overlook at their peril. Results from research we conducted last year revealed our readers are still very much committed to print and the benefits it provides them – they love the little things print offers, such as crosswords, columnists like cooking with Nadia Lim and hyper-local community news and What’s On features. 

These are the things that will continue to draw consumers to print news options for years to come. 

Broader research also continues to show that print audiences are quality audiences when it comes to advertising. Kiwis consistently report being more likely to purchase something they’ve seen advertised in print, over other mediums like TV and radio (highlighted as part of that same Nielsen survey from earlier this year).

Our readership across all Stuff print titles currently sits at 2.7 million people per month – making it a highly effective platform to deliver quality content. For advertisers, print continues to help deliver on KPIs, providing tangible, long-lasting brand exposure. 

Within your print stable, which titles are performing well?
We are proud to say that every single newspaper title across our nationwide portfolio is profitable. Overall profit contribution varies by region and is due to a number of factors but the fact remains that our titles have legions of loyal readers who love reading them, as well as national and local advertisers who continue to invest in advertising within them because of the returns they deliver. 

We have some exciting product enhancements coming, as well as a number of new initiatives across a range of interest areas and industry categories. Put simply, our print titles are an essential part of Stuff and are very much alive and kicking. I invite advertisers and agencies to challenge us to prove it.

Thank you.

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