The death of the newspaper industry hasn’t occurred as predicted. In actuality, it has picked up steam, with nearly 70% of the population reading newspapers on the regular, according to Nielsen research. While this is certainly good news for publishers, it hasn’t been the rise in revenue the publishing industry was banking on. Ad revenue hasn’t met the circulation surge, as reported by Pew Research Center, leaving many publishers scratching their heads.

Below, 15 Forbes Agency Council members give their takes on whether newspapers are worth the investment for advertisers when it comes to promoting their business.

All photos courtesy of individual Forbes Agency Council members.

Should you still be advertising in print? 

1. It’s All About The Target Audience

Newspapers ad sales have declined over the years as “digital” grew in market share, but they certainly remain winners for many advertisers. I don’t feel that a drastic change in ad spend following a trend would be wise to incorporate, but as we see a rise in readership from certain audiences, it might be smart to incorporate newspaper ads into the mix if the target audiences align. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

2. Local Magazines Are A Better Print Option

In terms of newspaper advertising, I don’t see much of an opportunity here. When most people want the news they use their phone, go on the internet or watch it on TV. With that being said, I think running local ads in local magazines is a great way to advertise via print. – Chris Ake, Grand Apps

3. Any Ad Not Spurring Extreme Emotion Isn’t Worth It

Media brands are very aware of who their readers are and what types of stories will drive traffic. The recent election has spurred growth in some very interesting businesses, showing that there is a unique opportunity for advertisers if they approach it in the right (tasteful) way. Also, if advertisers extended their static ads with dynamic web or mobile experiences, it could yield higher ROI. – Chi Zhao, Hokku PR

4. If It’s Relevant To The Target, Leverage It

With growing lack of trust in media as a whole, newspapers still hold solid credibility. They’re widely read by media and influencers and can be a key vehicle to reaching opinion leaders. Let’s face it: At times there is nothing more impactful than a well crafted full-page newspaper ad. If you do a placement, find ways to leverage it more broadly in your mobile/digital and PR strategy, as well. – Daryl McCullough, Citizen Relations

5. Yes, When Combined With Online Opportunities

Newspaper advertising can be efficient but we like to combine it with online opportunities, e-blasts and “sponsored content.” We are also seeing many newspapers expand their services to include SEO, re-targeting, website design, social media and much more, just to stay afloat. Newspapers have had to re-invent themselves to stay current, much like the field of public relations has had to. – Duree Ross, Durée &

6. Certain Types Of Ads Work Better In Print

Newspaper has traditionally been a strong performer for local businesses’ transactional messaging, which is the easiest to test. For example, if you have a brick-and-mortar storefront, run an ad with a limited-time coupon. Then calculate sales on coupon transactions and determine your ROI. Of course there is still the added awareness, however, that can never be precisely measured. – Diana Wolff, LRG Marketing

7. A Deciding Factor Is Liability

In theory, any real estate is an opportunity, but we’ve seen that sheer placement can cause perception of topic association that may not be true. In today’s polarized political climate, newspapers themselves have been assigned alleged “red”/”blue” affiliation, and advertisers are right to walk cautiously toward more eyeballs, for fear of losing potential increased revenue to brand damage control. – Elizabeth Poston, Helios Interactive

8. It’s Time To Move On

As an advertiser, you want to reach targeted audiences and generate repeat, memorable impressions to potential customers. In that perspective, newspapers don’t have much to offer. Your ad is being seen by every reader. Unlike Facebook, Google or influencer marketing, there’s no guarantee every dollar you spend will reach a potential customer. In today’s world, why settle for anything less? – Gil Eyal, HYPR!

9. The Medium Should Fit The Message

As with all advertising delivery platforms, the medium must fit the strategy. Newspaper ads can be costly depending on the publication, likely will only be seen in a quick moment, and there is no solid way to track conversion. However, for the right campaign, or as a component of a larger initiative, they can be a game changer, making more of a tangible statement than digital ever could. – Goran Paunovic, ArtVersion Interactive Agency

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

10. It Depends On Your Target Audience

With any form of promotion, the largest factor is the target audience. Newspaper advertising can be a hit when combined with additional digital advertising methods: native ad content, e-blasts, social media integration, etc. Advertising can exist nearly anywhere and newspapers have done a lot to keep up with digital/print industry trends – this shouldn’t be ignored. – Jenelle Coy, Coy +

11. There Is Opportunity If An Omnichannel Solution Is Offered

If the newspaper publisher offers an omnichannel approach for content and advertising distribution, it could be a good ad buy if target demographics and readership align. An increase in print subscriptions may not translate to an increase in eyeballs for advertisers, which is why it’s important for brands to orchestrate a consistent and seamless message across multiple channels and devices. – Jenna Vandenberg, 5ifty & 5ive

12. It Is Not Worth The ROI

It does not seem worth the ROI. The resurgence in subscriptions related to a political event reveals that users of this medium are likely seeking a specific interest, information about the election and current presidency. Therefore, unless the product being advertised serves as a direct solution to those queries, the ads will likely not see promising engagement. – Larry Gurreri, Sosemo

13. It’s All About Balance And Engagement

Advertising is benefiting somewhat from the surge, but using a multichannel approach to marketing is key. In fact, email marketing continues to generate the highest ROI and is very complementary to advertising (including programmatic ads), social media and other channels. It’s all about balance and identifying the best ways to reach your target market in order to successfully engage with them. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.

14. What Can’t Be Tracked Can’t Be Measured

With the rise of interactive advertising and wide employment of marketing automation tools, marketers have become skeptical of print ads. Clients are eager to see tangible results and nothing satisfies more than a clear chain reaction to a given campaign. Dollar for dollar, interactive ads are always a better bet given the ability to target, nurture and measure the effectiveness of a campaign. – Ricardo Casas, Fahrenheit Marketing

15. Where There Are Eyeballs, There Are Ad Opportunities

Wherever there are eyeballs, there are opportunities for businesses to advertise. We see this in sports. The NBA will soon have sponsors visible on players jerseys. If more people are reading newspapers, there are definitely opportunities to advertise. Special pricing and promotions make a good ad for print because readers will cut it out and leave it on their table or fridge. – T. Maxwell, eMaximize


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