US papers combine print and web circulations for ABC figures

The number of newspaper readers who log on to a newspaper’s website are to count towards a title’s official circulation – in the USA at least.

This is the view of the US Audit Bureau of Circulations which will now combine print and online readerships figures.

This should reduce complaints from many advertisers – and newspapers – that today ‘s figures present a false picture.

ABC audits are compiled semi-annually in the US – and for years the figures have been declining dramatically. As a result many advertisers have been switching from print.

The trend – despite the new ABC decision – is expected to continue for some time. Two of America’s largest publishing companies, Gannett and Dow Jones, are expected to report further declines in print advertising in their upcoming quarterly reports.

For some time publishers in the US have been urging advertisers to look at total readership figures, including the internet.

A spokeswomen for ABC said the new system will benefit both newspapers and advertisers by providing a better picture of a paper’s overall impact.

For most American newspapers the new plan could not have come at a better time. Latest figures indicate that the downturn in advertising in US newspapers is getting worse.

Since the start of the year the decline has accelerated. Total print (and on-line) advertising for the first quarter is down almost 5 per cent – to under $11,000 million. Last year, for the whole year, the decline was well under one per cent.

The biggest decline has been in classified advertising – down more than 13 per cent. Even the Wall Street Journal saw its ad income drop more than three per cent in May.

The drop in advertising has put many newspaper stocks into a tailspin – including such companies as the New York Times and Gannett.

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