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A Powerful One-Two Punch

By Jack Brady

The oldest mass medium, i.e., newspapers, and one of the newest, i.e., the Internet, have individually proven that they are potent tools in reaching and persuading voters.  However, a new major study commissioned by Google ™ shows that the power of newspaper and online advertising are greatly enhanced when they are used in tandem.  Although the study is primarily directed at product and consumer advertising, it is reasonable to conclude that many of the findings are directly applicable to political advertising. 

Political consultants and candidates who implement the findings from the study will avail themselves of a significant advantage in the political communications war.
Newspapers Alone
As strange as it might seem, in trumpeting the results of their commissioned research study, Google ™, the Internet search engine giant, is running full page ads in Advertising Age that begin with:

    On a typical weekday, 48 percent of U.S. adults read a newspaper.  On
    Sunday, that figure shoots up to 53 percent - more people than watched
    this year’s Super Bowl.  Newspaper readers are more affluent and better
    educated than the average consumer, they trust newspaper ads more than
    the ones they see in any other medium, and 85 percent of them say they
    recently bought something they saw advertised in a newspaper.

Google’s ™ findings are well known to those in the newspaper industry.  They mirror both independent surveys and research commissioned by the Newspaper Association of America.  From Costas Panagoupolus’ Yale University study, American Voter Media Use, to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, from Moore Information (Republican pollsters) to The Cromer Group (Democrat pollsters), the findings are all very similar.

  • Young and old alike are frequent and regular newspaper readers
  • 70% of seniors, the largest and most reliable voting block, are frequent newspaper readers
  • 8 out of 10 newspaper readers voted in the last two presidential elections
  • 55%, a majority of all voters, read a newspaper every day
  • 3 out of 4 undecided voters are regular newspaper readers
  • Newspapers have higher believability among voters than any other medium
  • Local newspaper websites surpass all others with a 27% share, compared with 9.5 for television and 2.1 for radio
Even research studies done for the sole purpose of documenting the strength of the internet such as the recent ABC News/Facebook Poll: The Election and the Internet have come to many of the same conclusions … that newspaper is second only to television and that’s combining all cable and broadcast together, as the top source for election news.  It hasn’t gone unnoticed outside of the political community. Recently a major Wall Street Journal story (7/26/07) proclaimed “Political Ads Stage a Comeback in Newspapers.”  Considering the documented strength in reaching and persuading voters, it is not surprising that newspapers and newspaper websites are garnering an increasing share of the political ad dollar.  The final proof that there is a seismic shift is that political consultants are doubling their expenditures in newspapers including their websites every two years.

Media Synergy - Newspapers Drive Online Traffic
From the beginning of the profession, political media buyers have tried to determine the most efficient and effective media mix for their clients, whether at the local, state, or federal level. With the advent of Internet advertising, with all of its reach, targeting, and interactive abilities, it was inevitable that it would play a significant role in the political media landscape.  Although the Internet garnered only 17-20% of media expenditures through the 2006 elections, its share will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. 

Internet applications for campaigns have been numerous, from fundraising to grassroots organizing.  However, the political extrapolation of the Google ™ product study shows that when combined with newspapers, the internet can “close the sale,” whether it be a product or a vote.

Their study conducted by Clark, Martire and Bartolomeo Inc., found that a significant percentage of people said that “seeing a product both online and in the newspaper would make them more likely to purchase that product than seeing it in one medium alone.”  The study also found that  no less than 56% of newspaper readers, after seeing a newspaper ad, researched or purchased at least one product online within a month of seeing the ad.  Almost half, 47%, of those responding to newspaper ads would visit a URL included in the ad.  

Google ™ concluded that their research clearly demonstrates that newspaper advertising, in addition to all of its proven strengths, is a highly effective tool in driving consumers (and we would argue voters as well) to the Internet.

Jack Brady is Director of Marketing and Advertising for the Newspaper
Association of America.  He has represented the newspaper
industry at political seminars and forums across the nation.
Jack can be reached at 
Click here to contact this Author

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