The Newspaper Works declares Australian newspaper industry in a good position to transition to the digital age, but print is still where the money is.

Finally! This story was ready to burst. Thank goodness the strict embargo has been lifted and we are now free to bring you the findings of The State of Australian Newspapers 2011 report, in which the not-for-profit The Newspaper Works declares all is well in the local newspaper industry heading into the future.

And that’s the gist of it, so if all you wanted was the conclusion of that report you can stop reading. If you would like to continue, however, we should first get something out in the open. For those unaware, The Newspaper Works is technically a not-for-profit organisation, but it is definitely not against profits, either, as long as those profits are being made by its founders, a group comprising every large Australian newspaper parent company. With that small caveat out of the way, let’s continue.

Drawing on data from PricewaterhouseCooper’s Entertainment and Media Outlook 2011-2015, the report puts growth in advertising revenue for digital newspapers at almost two and a half times that of the Internet in general from 2006 to 2010. And with 11 percent growth in digital ad revenue forecast for next year, The Newspaper Works has officially declared Aussie newspapers to be successfully transforming to the digital age.

CEO Tony Hale says this report into the industry’s health “shows a robust future lies ahead,” and the fact that “Australian consumers have enthusiastically embraced newspapers delivered via digital platforms” is good news.

It is true that Australians are flocking to tablets and smart phones, and that a quarter of owners of such devices read news that way, but the industry has a long way to go before that factoid should let them rest easy. The brief mention of printed newspaper ad revenue shows it reaching $3.665 billion last year. Digital newspaper ad revenue is about 7 percent of that, at $259 million. Both those numbers are growing, so there is certainly money to be made by this “sunset industry,” as Kerry Stokes labelled it earlier this year, in both printed and digital forms. However, if the future is all about the latter, there is a lot of work to be done before it is as lucrative as the print newspaper industry of old that forged dynastic fortunes.

Peter Roper
BY Peter Roper ON 31 August 2011
Editor of Marketing Magazine and Marketingmag.com.au