NAA Unveils Audience Data Tool, Says Online Reach is Up

In its quest to boost newspaper ad spending, The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) has unveiled an online audience measurement tool. In addition, the organization revealed unique visitors to newspaper sites were up 31 percent during the first half of this year, compared with the same period in ’05. It’s also touting the Web’s role in increasing newspaper readership among 18- to 34-year-olds.

The NAA’s fall 2006 Newspaper Audience Database (NAdbase) report, which combines print and online data from Scarborough Research and newspaper site data from Nielsen/NetRatings, shows newspaper Web sites averaged more than 55.5 million unique visitors a month during the first half of 2006, up nearly a third from the 42.4 million reported during the year-ago period.

By comparison, according to an August NAA study, an average of almost 55 million users per month visited newspaper sites in Q2 2006, compared to 42.5 million who did so during the same period in the previous year.

The NAA’s new online research tool incorporates online and print data from Scarborough Research. With it, media buyers can create reports featuring local and national audience data, compare markets and newspaper demographics, and generate Acrobat or Microsoft Excel files featuring query results.

According to today’s report, page view numbers have risen this year, too. July 2006 page views were up 52 percent over last July, representing 35 percent of all Web users. Still, unique visitors and page views have fluctuated from a highpoint in March of this year, when the unique audience climbed above 57.8 million users and page views reached more than 2.7 billion, according to separate Nielsen/Netratings data provided by the NAA. In July of this year, the unique audience for newspaper sites was about 54.6 million users, and page views reached about 2.6 billion.

These shifts could be due to seasonal changes or the natural fluctuation of news events, according to Randy Bennett, the NAA’s VP, audience and new business development.

In an especially bright spot for the industry, readership is up among younger users. The report finds newspaper Web sites have helped drive a 15 percent leap in total newspaper audience figures for 25- to 34-year-olds and a 10 percent boost for 18- to 24-year-olds. The NAA chalks up this increased interest among younger readers to new products and investments in digital platforms such as audio and video story components.

“There is a sense that the online platform is a very important growth driver for newspapers,” observed Bennett. “We’re seeing them treat the online product as another core product and not just an ancillary product.”

Newspapers that have expanded their reach the most among the 25-34 demographic through their sites are The Washington Times (up 60.2 percent), Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News (up 52.0 percent), and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (up 48.3 percent), and Others with big boosts in readership in that age range include South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel and Austin American-Statesman. Audience reach combines the average weekly print audience and the net 30-day Web audience.

The study also shows 66 percent of 18- to 34-year olds in the top 50 markets read a paper during the course of a week. In addition, 77 percent of 35- to 54-year-olds and 83 percent of those 55 and above read a newspaper in the last week.

UPDATE: In the original version of this story, it was reported that The Washington Post‘s and South Florida Sun-Sentinel‘s reach among the 25-34 demographic was up 60 percent and 56 percent, respectively. This information has since been corrected by the NAA and updated above.

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