Looking at news media audiences — beyond the lens of yesterday’s readership — provides an opportunity to understand how audiences interact with news brands.

Regardless of generation, the move to a weekly lens elevates news brands to a level comparable with other media. For this article, Vividata analysed Canada’s largest market, Toronto, served by six daily newspapers.

There is an opportunity for publishers to close the gap between "read yesterday" and "read past week" metrics, especially among Millennials and GenXers.
There is an opportunity for publishers to close the gap between "read yesterday" and "read past week" metrics, especially among Millennials and GenXers.

Digital is no longer a niche platform for any generation. It’s no surprise that the younger generations, Millennials and GenXers, read news brands less frequently than Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation. However, Millennials and GenXers are reached by the digital content of news brands at a higher rate than the elder generations.

Digital content reaches younger generations more frequently.
Digital content reaches younger generations more frequently.

Understanding generational reading behaviour

Newspapers remain the No. 1 choice for city, national, or international news across generations. Each generation has a different pattern of digital reading and requires a different strategy to build engagement and increase reading frequency.

Newspapers remain an important platform for every generation of readers.
Newspapers remain an important platform for every generation of readers.

Attracting Millennials requires a strong digital and/or cross-platform strategy, with attention on relevant and compelling social and interactive features. Their preference for smartphones makes Millennials a great target for location-based services and deals.

Every generation has different news consumption preferences that should be taken into consideration.
Every generation has different news consumption preferences that should be taken into consideration.

GenXers are fairly similar in their news consumption to Millennials. However, they are more engaged by news brands. GenXers spend more time with news brands in print and digital formats.

They prefer to access digital content on a computer over a smartphone, and will most often navigate to digital news content via a search engine or by going directly to the Web site. While they are still very mobile, their device usage has more to do with convenience as they have more hectic lifestyles than the other generations.

Baby Boomers are heavier readers of print. But Boomers are transitioning to digital. For digital content, they prefer navigating directly to news brand Web sites, but they are also using social media.

Both GenXers and Baby Boomers value premium and local content. To retain or grow the reach of these segments, news brands can offer a content ecosystem that combines print, digital, and mobility. For Boomers especially, digital can be used as a means to enhance their experience with the printed product.

The Greatest Generation are primarily loyal to their preferred news brands. This generation has the highest readership of print, and readers spend the most time with the printed product. When accessing digital content, they most often navigate directly to the Web site via a bookmark in their browser, or through a subscription that includes the digital edition.

When we look at newspaper audiences beyond the yesterday-only metric, advertisers and publishers can explore the opportunities captured in weekly readership behaviour: strategies to increase readership frequency across the day and number of issues read across the week, different platform strategies and audience drivers, and generational behaviour segmentation.

Today, there are many sources for national and international news, but newspapers continue to hold their own, if not lead, other major media (TV, radio, and social media) across all generations. The local news brand/newspaper is unique in its ability to both report on the local news and provide the local filter through which global and national news stories are told.