Thursday, July 26, 2007

Politicians rediscover newspapers, especially smaller ones, as media for advertising messages

"At a time when many categories of newspaper advertising are declining, the political message is making a comeback," reports Kevin Helliker in The Wall Street Journal today. As overall spending on campaigns doubled to $3.1 billion between 2002 and 2006, the amount spent on newspapers, including their online editions, tripled to $104 million, according to PQ Media. The rate of growth appears to be highest in races for local posts, such as mayor and state legislator, because newspapers boast greater penetration and influence in small- to medium-size markets."

Newspapers still have less than 5 percent of the political ad market, but "a growing number of political consultants say newspapers can offer distinct advantages over television and other media," Helliker reports. "Newspaper readers vote at above-average rates. Even amid circulation declines, newspapers in many markets reach an audience that is competitive with any single broadcast channel, a strength that online editions are bolstering. Online editions also are reaching a demographic group that their print editions have been losing -- the young reader."

Here's the part of this story we really liked: "Newspapers also allow for more sophisticated arguments than are delivered in the typical 30-second television campaign." Helliker cites the print ads by Republican consultant Arthur Haney for Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2004, making an argument perhaps too complex for a TV ad. Hackney told Helliker that newspaper ads helped "turn the tide" in several campaigns he ran.

Helliker suggests that newspaper sales staffs aren't as aggressive as they could be in selling political ads, but notes: "The nation's fourth-largest newspaper chain, Lee Enterprises Inc. of Davenport, Iowa, has appointed a corporate sales executive to drum up political advertising at Lee's 50-some papers in mostly small- to medium-size markets." (Read more)

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