Newspapers see sales and ad revenue climb

Newspapers saw their circulation and advertising revenue climb worldwide last year as the rapid growth of free titles and online publications extended their reach, according to a report released in Gothenburg on Monday.

The report was published to coincide with the annual congress of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), which is being held in Sweden for the first time.

One Swedish report due to presented at the conference states that Sweden “has the world’s fourth largest concentration of newspapers and is still a country in which it is possible to make money from a regional paid-for newspaper,” according to Svenska Dagbladet’s media commentator Martin Jönsson.

The World Association of Newspapers said global newspaper sales were up 2.57 percent over the year, and had increased 9.39 percent over the past five years.

“When free dailies are added to the paid newspaper circulation, global circulation increased 3.65 percent last year, and 14.3 percent over the past five years,” it said.

“Free dailies now account for nearly seven percent of all global newspaper circulation and for 23 percent of circulation in Europe alone,” it noted.

“Advertising revenue for paid dailies were up 0.86 percent last year from a year earlier, and up 12.84 percent over five years, WAN said. “Print remains the world’s largest advertising medium, with a 40 percent share.”

WAN chief executive Timothy Balding said that “Newspaper circulation has been rising or stable in three-quarters of the world’s countries over the past five years and in nearly 80 percent of countries in the past year.”

“And even in places where paid-for circulation is declining, notably the United States and some countries in western Europe, newspapers continue to extend their reach through a wide variety of free and niche publications and through their rapidly developing multi-media platforms.”

WAN’s annual survey of all countries and territories where newspapers are published showed that global sales of paid-for newspapers rose to more than 532 million daily.

With free dailies added, circulation increased to more than 573 million, while average readership is estimated to be more than 1.7 billion people.

“The total number of paid-for daily titles was up 2.98 percent in the world in 2007 and up 11.02 percent since 2003 to a record 11,926 titles,” WAN said.

“The total number of paid and free titles increased by 3.65 percent in 2007 and by 14.30 percent since 2003.”

Of the world’s 100 best selling dailies, 74 are published in Asia, with China, Japan and India accounting for 62 of them, WAN said.

The five largest markets for newspapers are China, with 107 million copies sold daily, India, with 99 million, Japan, with 68 million, the United States, with nearly 51 million, and Germany with 20.6 million.

Sales rose in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, but fell in other regions, though in the European Union for example the advent of free papers kept circulation up.

Internet advertising revenue — not just newspapers online, but all Internet advertising — was up 32.45 percent over one year and 200 percent over five years, WAN said.

“Most of the revenue is generated in the United States, western Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region: North American Internet advertising revenue is 20 times greater than the combined revenue generated in central and eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.”

“In Europe, Internet display advertising revenues now surpass classified revenues while search remains the largest advertising market online. Newspaper online revenues are forecast to more than double in the next five years and will account for 12 percent of total newspaper advertising by 2011.”

A total of 312 free daily newspapers had a combined circulation of 41.04 million daily, a circulation increase of 20 percent over one year and 173.2 percent over five years.

“When free and paid-for circulations are combined, free dailies account for seven percent of the total world-wide, 23 percent in Europe, eight percent in the US and two percent in Asia.”

The number of newspaper on-line sites grew 13.77 percent in 2007 and 50.77 percent over the five years from 2003, WAN said.

“A study in the US shows that newspaper web site users also read the print edition: 81 percent of online newspaper readers also read a printed newspaper at least once a week.”