If your newspaper ads seem to be less effective these days, it’s not your imagination. The number of people who read a print newspaper has now shrunk to 26% – just barely over one person in four.
That number has dropped 12 percentage points since 2006, when 38% said they read a daily print newspaper “yesterday.” What’s more, our favorite excuse — that the decline is mostly among young people with less buying power — is getting less convincing. The latest numbers from the Pew Research Center, published in September, tell us that the decline is deeper and broader than most of us have imagined. Even among those 65 and over, only 46% read a print newspaper. For those between 50 and 64, the number was 35%, and for those from 40 to 49, it was a mere 24%. For any group below 40, it was 15% or less. If you look at all Americans under 50, the share reading a print newspaper on a given day is barely half what it was just four years ago.
While it’s certainly not news that more people are going online, a lot of people are missing the reality that news consumers are not necessarily going to their local newspaper’s web site for their news. Instead, they’re using the search engines to find news about a particular subject. Two-thirds of the public, in fact, say they use search engines to find news that interests them.