Credit: Image by NS Newsfalsh on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Audiences are contributing to an increasing share of the total global newspaper revenue, according to the annual World Press Trends survey released yesterday (June 13) by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

According to the latest survey figures, newspapers generated an estimated $168 billion (£118 billion) in circulation and advertising revenue in 2015, made up of $90 billion (£63 billion) in circulation revenue, and $78 billion (£55 billion) from advertising.

The survey showed that the seven biggest newspaper markets remain the United States, Japan, Germany, China, the United Kingdom, India and Brazil, which collect more than half of global newspaper revenues, and approximately 80 per cent of global daily unit circulation.

Vincent Peyrègne, chief executive, WAN-IFRA, explained to delegates of the 68th World News Media Congress that although print still pays, these global newspaper revenues continue to decline, falling 1.2 per cent in 2015 from the year before, and 4.3 per cent over the last five years.

He noted that this result shows that news publishers need to focus less on their products, but more on their "user experience" and how they serve their audience in order to remain profitable in the digital landscape.

"We all talk of being consumer-centric. We all talk of having a constant eye on the future. Now is truly the time to do what we say."

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Each year, the organisation collects data from more than 70 countries in cooperation with national newspapers and media associations, and the report is compiled with support from global data suppliers.

The survey found that more than 2.7 billion adults are reading print newspapers globally, but digital newspaper readership is on the rise, and in some of the most developed economies, readership on all digital platforms has outperformed print numbers.

In fact, Peyrègne noted that the World Press Trends analysis estimates that "at least 40 per cent of global internet users just read newspapers online".

Some 80 per cent of people in the United States are engaged with digital newspaper content, and 70 per cent of Australians and Canadians read newspaper content on their devices.

News brands reach 70 per cent of the UK population across online, tablet and mobile, and in markets such as France, Germany, Japan, Australia and Canada, more than one third of the adult population use mobile devices to access news media – and growth is rapid.

Peyrègne explained that this growth in mobile audience is in correlation with the ownership of smartphones that allow users to consume interactive content.

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Additionally, the popularity of online video is also rising, with eight to nine billion videos per day watched on Facebook, eight billion per day on Snapchat, and four billion a day on Youtube.

"The novelty of using digital media has gone – we are witnessing digital media and device separation," said Peyrègne.

"Today's audiences are not overly impressed by devices, but users value their time spent on mobile more than any other platform."

Almost 95 per cent of 16-34 year-olds online watch video, and even eight out of ten 55-64 year olds engage with video.

While digital advertising still represents a small part of overall newspaper revenue, Peyrègne noted that the industry was hoping to grow it as a significant source of revenue in the future, but this doesn't look likely, as the report shows that digital advertising growth has declined to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of less than 10 percent.

According to the latest report from PageFair, at least 419 million people are blocking ads on the mobile web – a behaviour which has grown by 90 per cent globally in 2015.

Peyrègne explained that the newspaper industry needs to inject trust, context and design into their advertising strategy, so that publishers do not risk focusing purely on short-term planning and buying decisions, which would ultimately damage brands and push prices down.

"When it comes to ad-blocking, we have to face the fact that we have greatly contributed to the negative reputation of digital and mobile ads," said Peyrègne.

"The threat of ad-blocking offers publishers a great chance to rethink their users’ culture, enabling them to redefine how advertising performance and engagement really works, and how we apply knowledge about our users to improve the product and the experience."

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