Study proves strength of newspaper advertising

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Newspaper advertising, both in print and digital, is the most impactful form of marketing for consumers at every stage of the buying process, says a recent study conducted by Totum Research.

The medium, maligned by next-generation marketers who point to the power of online advertising and social media, proved to be the dominant media for vehicle manufacturer and dealers looking to connect with new vehicle intenders.

“They are really powerful results and reinforce what dealers may know intuitively but didn’t have data before on what Canadians were saying,” explains Suzanne Raitt, chief marketing officer and senior V-P at Newspapers Canada, which commissioned the study.

“There are very few charts in which newspapers don’t perform really well. It just shows that on every question asked, newspapers were powerful.”

The survey questioned 2,461 Canadians last October regarding 11 forms of media. Results included 487 buyers of new vehicles in the past two years. The margin of error was plus minus 4.4 per cent.

Newspaper mediums, both print and online, scored best overall with print finishing first or second at each stage (thinking, researching and ready to make purchase).

For triggering a dealership visit, newspaper print plus digital mediums topped the list beating out television, radio, auto sales media, magazines and social media.

For booking a test drive, newspapers print plus digital came in second to non-auto websites but handily bested TV, radio, magazine, auto sales media and social media.

Newspapers (web and print combined) were also tops at triggering visits to OEM websites, vehicle brand websites and dealer websites.

“Compared to 11 media, newspaper websites were in the top five no matter what the question was. I think the overall takeaway was that print is powerful, but newspaper websites are really powerful too,” she adds.

Of particular note is the study’s work in determining exactly what consumers used each medium for. Print newspapers scored highest for three key consumer needs: providing general information; comparing prices and deciding where to buy or lease.

The study’s author concludes this demonstrates print newspapers can be used for branding as well as specific information. The ads reinforce the message in print but allow the consumer to take the next step and get more information by clicking through.

It should be noted the study did not differentiate between major daily newspapers like the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail from community papers covering small towns.

Dave Harvey is the general manager of Metroland Media Group’s Halton Division. He says the results show just how much value newspapers can add to car dealers when it comes to connecting with customers.

“So-called marketing experts have been saying for years that newspapers are dead and that digital and social media avenues are the only solution. These results reveal just how vital newspapers can be in the car-buying process,” he says.

“It’s refreshing to have numbers to reinforce what we have known all along: newspapers work.”

Metroland Media publishes over 100 community newspapers throughout Ontario. (Metroland Media owns Premier Publications and Shows, which publishes Canadian AutoWorld.)

Respondents were also asked about ads in different media. Results show three-in-four indicated they read vehicle ads in print newspapers while only one-in-seven asked reported looking at vehicle ads on social media.

For Raitt, the main takeaway is just how powerful newspapers are at driving consumers to dealerships.

“Newspapers are not your cocktail conversation,” she says. “Putting an ad in a newspaper doesn’t have the cache of something like social media. But sometimes tried and true works.”