To say there has been some significant movement in the national newspapers in the past week and a half would be an understatement. With the purchase of i by Johnston Press for £24m, the subsequent closure of the Independent in print, and (to finish it off) the news that Trinity Mirror will launch a new national 20p tabloid, there has been plenty for commentators to get their teeth into.


As we explained last week, while the closure of the Independent in print might not hold quite the same resonance for brands and advertisers as publishers, this latest development is of course a major if not an unexpected one.


What is perhaps more unexpected however is the Trinity Mirror’s apparent rise from the ashes in the wake of the Independent to launch their new print-only (for the time being) tabloid entitled The New Day.


Should print investment come as a surprise?


A brief glance at the figures for print newspapers in recent times does not paint a pretty picture. Year on year print circulations show declines across the board, and are only heading in one direction: down. So surely investing in a sinking ship is a bad idea, right?


Well, as we explained of the final ABC report for 2015, while year on year decline was clearly evident, there remained some relative stability period on period across many titles. A stability that has continued into 2016 as evidenced by the latest ABC results for January:


From the daily market Johnston Press’s new acquisition i performed particularly well – up 1.3% selling 272,000 copies and down just -3% year on year. The biggest increase was seen by the Daily Star up 4.1% in January adding 18,600 copies to its circulation, followed by the Daily Express in the mid-market, which managed an additional 8,000 copies and was up 2% on the previous month.


On the other side of the coin both the Independent and the Independent on Sunday recorded losses. The daily title was down 1.6% compared with December – a circulation of just 55,200 – while the Sunday edition was down -1.4% period on period and -6.1% over the year. Of the Sunday market however the Independent was the worst performer in what in general proved to be a steady month – up by 0.8% overall period on period.


A brave but not a foolhardy move


While it may at first glance seem counterintuitive, the investment made by Johnston Press and Trinity Mirror is as Josh Krichefski, CEO at MediaCom describes it, a brave but not foolhardy one. As Krichefski explains “millions of people still buy and enjoy the print experience” and the move should “prompt advertiser reappraisal of the medium”.


In the same way that Trinity Mirror and Johnston Press have looked to take advantage of the opportunities that print can provide, advertisers can similarly benefit. As well as a stable (if not declining) audience, print offers numerous other benefits that make it – however counterintuitive it may seem to some – a great option for advertisers.


Whether you believe there is really a print renaissance on the horizon or not, there can be no denying – as these most recent developments show – that there remains enough of an incentive to warrant investment in print.


To see how our media planning and buying team can help your message in front of the right people, whether that be across print media, digital or elsewhere, get in touch today – we’d love to hear from you.


By Paul Gregson