“Young people do still read newspapers.”
This is point not often made at media conferences nowadays but it was the message from Metro editor Ted Young when he addressed the Print World 2017 conference in Berlin today.
He added: “This does not mean I also think the Earth’s flat or that climate change doesn’t exist. I’m a huge fan of digital and have spent a significant proportion of my career working on major news websites in the UK and New York.
“…But I also understand the value of print.”
And he warned: “I sometimes think there is a lemming-like rush to digital away from newspapers. We are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water.”
He pointed out that his free daily, available to commuters in major urban areas around the UK Monday to Friday , is now the UK’s most read newspaper title (according to the National Readership Survey).
Metro has a daily free circulation of just under 1.5m and (according to the NRS) reaches 10.5m readers over the course of a month. According to Young, 41 per cent of Metro readers are aged 18 to 35.
Young said: “Every morning I get the Tube to work and I see for myself the huge number of young commuters and school kids who read Metro newspaper.
“Some rather lazy academics say this is because there is no wifi on the Tube.
“Well I live out in Richmond, west London, and my commute is overground. In fact, the vast majority of Metro newspaper readers travel overground and have access to an internet signal. More than 250 underground stations in London now have wifi.”
As to why so many in the advertising industry seem to think newspapers are doomed, he said: “I suspect some high-ups and media agency bosses live in a cocooned world where they never use public transport so don’t understand the commuter experience. They never see the rush to pick up our paper.
“Also, dare I say it, it’s rather easier to flog programmatic ads to a client even if their ad ends up on the dodgiest of websites.”
He said that one advantage Metro has over websites is that headlines aren’t written to “feed beasts like Omniture and Google analytics” for the best search engine optimisation.
Young said readers also appreciate Metro’s neutral political stance and noted that the newspaper is doing well financially.
He said the title, part of Daily Mail and General Trust, has just “returned a very healthy profit for this financial year. Revenues are 3.3 per cent up on last year.”
He said: “In a market that industry experts expect to be somewhere between 15 per cent to 20 per cent down, our display revenue is actually 5.6 per cent up year on year…
“So long live the smartphone. But long live the smart newspaper too.
“Millennials really do love both. So let’s make both work.”