Another month, another ABC release. As always, we took a look to see if there was any stand out numbers or changes to long term trends.


Just to recap, those long term trends include the ongoing decline, managed and otherwise, of print overall, with quality papers and free papers (generally) performing better or bucking the overall trends.


We don’t think decline of print is terminal. Predictions of the death of a successful format are usually proved false (see radio, TV and film for evidence). But the trend is still one of decline, overall. It’s hard to spin an 8% year on year drop positively, but we aren’t interested in spin, merely how this looks for our clients who might be able to take advantage of an ever more captive, demographically precise and engaged audience.


Month on month figures are largely good across the board. While these are always good to see, we are more interested in the year on year results that rely less on how well England did in the World Cup or Rolf Harris’ guilty verdict.


Standout figures include The Times (YoY increase of 0.66%) and The Guardian (loss of just 0.9%), meanwhile The Daily Telegraph saw a drop of 5.94%, The FT down 14.68% (although it has, in effect justified the loss with its ‘digital first’ strategy) and the Independent losing an unhealthy 13.08% YoY.


The Sunday papers continue to perform slightly worse than the dailies overall, seeing a 9% drop YoY, with the same pattern in the dailies; quality papers performing better YoY than the mid-market and the red tops, was replicated in the Sunday titles. For instance, The Observer only dropped 2.5% while the Mail on Sunday saw a drop of 6.68%.


The red tops continued to perform worse, overall, than the quality titles. My own pet theory regarding this: that ‘cheaper’ (both in terms of price and it’s broader appeal) content is seen as less valuable by the reader and is less likely to be paid for when, by its nature, that type of content is popular and available for free online. Also, people don’t pay for ‘quality’ just because they think it is better, it is an expression of their own ‘quality’ and if it is an expression, it is better expressed physically (ie so others can see), than it is via a screen. At the moment, the (quicker) decline of red top and mass market newspapers and magazines against qualities and free papers supports this view but I’ll be the first to hold my hands up when the figures suggest otherwise.


With regards to what this means to us, all of the above is promising – especially for brands who know themselves and their audience very well. Decreasing circulation gives more leverage for the advertising industry, whilst promising a better defined, more involved reader to the brands who buy themselves ad space.