Do Newspaper Ads Still Work in Australia? | 2022 Costs, Options & More

Are you a local tradie looking to boost your business’ profits? If you are, then you may have considered advertising your services in the newspaper. However, with digital advertising on the ride and print media declining, you might be asking yourself if print advertising is still worth it in 2022?

Newspapers still have a large reader base and may be useful to advertise your business in 2022, depending on your target audience. If your ideal client base has an older skew, newspaper advertising is going to be more effective than other forms of advertising, such as digital marketing.

If you’re a local tradie tossing up between online and print advertising, you’ve come to the right place. This article will lay down the numbers: the good news, the bad news, and which businesses can still have success with newspaper ads.

Want to know if newspaper advertising is still worth it today? Continue reading below!

Is Newspaper Advertising Still Effective in 2022?

Yes, newspaper advertising can still be effective today, but it may not be the most cost-effective option, either. Despite the rapid rise of digital advertising, print advertising can still work for businesses, but the pros and cons should be carefully considered. 

As a small business owner, you may think it is always more cost-effective to advertise online. After all, the constant traffic on social media channels suggests it’s the best place to get eyes on your ads. But it might surprise you how effective print advertising can be for some products and services. 

Although newspapers are bought primarily for their news content, the main revenue for print media is the advertising space. However, that does mean advertising must attract the readers’ attention away from the content they’re enjoying. 

Print ads need to be memorable and eye-catching, as well as being brief but engaging. Well-designed and clear graphics are essential for good print ads, so there’s a lot that goes into a good newspaper ad, and this can be a barrier. 

However, it is true that the print industry has declined in Australia as digital advertising has taken off. The COVID-19 pandemic has also caused more businesses to choose digital over traditional advertising. Still, with a market value of over $2 billion, the newspaper industry is well and truly alive in Australia. It will take some time before digital makes newspapers completely obsolete. 

Pros and Cons of Newspaper Advertising in 2022

Pros of Newspaper Advertising

Newspaper ads may be old news, but there are still some benefits of this promotional technique in 2022. 

  • Millions of Readers Across Australia – According to data, print news saw a 6% increase in 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. Print news reached 14.1 million Aussies in that period. There is evidence that the readership of print news is growing even more in newspapers that have a digital presence as well – news (both print and digital) reached a total of 20.4 million Australians last year.
  • Tradition & Habit – Prior to the age of digital media, television, and even radio, newspapers were the main format for sharing news and advertising. This means many people still prefer to turn to newspapers to check local fliers, car prices, and classifieds. Local ads for trades and services will still reach the eyes of many Australians, even with digital being the more popular choice today. 
  • Variety of Advertising Options – Newspapers offering advertisers a wide variety of ad options. Tradies can opt to have a cost-effective and minimalist ad that is like one found in the Classifieds section or Yellow Pages. This is also referred to as a ‘business card’ ad. Alternatively, they can go for a large, more expensive and visually appealing display ad. There are options for practically every budget, even small business owners.
  • Local & Demographic Targeting – Choosing a newspaper for advertising your service is already a form of targeting. These print mediums are distributed to certain geographic areas and targeted towards particular demographics and subgroups. You can target newspapers that are distributed to areas in which there is less competition for the service you offer, or distribute the ad across your business service area. 
  • Digital Extensions – Newspaper firms understand the value of having an online presence, and as a result, they do not rely only on print alone. Similar to radio stations, major newspaper companies now have a digital counterpart to cater to those who prefer to read news online. This is why choosing the right newspaper to advertise in is crucial. Selecting newspapers with both a print and digital format can significantly boost the coverage of your ads. 

Cons of Newspaper Advertising

In 2022, there are plenty of reasons newspaper advertising is falling out of favour. Here are some of the disadvantages of newspaper ads today. 

  • Short Shelf Life – Due to the fast pace of news today, many newspapers release daily prints to keep up with current affairs. This ultimately gives papers a one-day ‘shelf life’ for being read, including your ad inside. Although some are published on a weekly basis which marginally increases the ‘shelf life’, the fact is that people who could not pick up the newspaper on the day that you advertise your services cannot see it. This brief exposure comes at a fairly high cost! Compare this to running a Yellow Pages ad which may be referred to all year long. 
  • Limited Audience – When considering the print medium, there are some serious limitations regarding the demographics and audience your ad will reach. Despite the fact that you are still likely to reach a large number of readers, they may not be the demographic you need for your services. For example, younger Aussies still prefer to read news online, so your print advertisement is less likely to reach them. 
  • Cost Per Reader – If you merely consider the cost per ad based on the amount of space it takes up in the newspaper, it may appear to be a cost-effective technique. However, you know only a small portion of readers will be interested in your service to begin with. So, when you pay to have your ads put in the newspaper, what percentage of your target audience are you really reaching? The return on investment can be fairly low for newspaper ads, and very unpredictable, compared to digital platforms offering a predictable cost per lead.  
  • Weak for Branding – Newspaper ads are placed alongside a significant amount of ‘page clutter’ (unless you pay to have your ad occupy an entire page) and readers rarely go through entire pages. This means newspaper ads just aren’t catchy or memorable like TV or radio advertising. The non-intrusive nature of newspaper advertising also means they may not be noticed by anyone not actively looking for your service already. 
  • Decreasing Readership – Although many people and analysts agree print mediums are not yet dead, it is an established fact that readership is in constant decline. The number of newspapers in circulation continues to drop every year, especially since more and more people are opting to read the news in digital format.

How Much Does Newspaper Advertising Cost in 2022?

It isn’t possible to pinpoint an exact cost of advertising in newspapers, with so many options to choose from. However, an average range for advertising in a major newspaper is between $54,000 and $88,480. 

Advertising costs vary depending on the size of the advertisement, the newspaper agency the ad is placed in, the frequency of the ad, the day it will be shown (weekdays vs weekend), the position of the ad, and whether it’s printed in colour or not.

The Sydney Morning Herald charges $70,752 for ads placed in the news section from Monday to Friday and increases to $88,480 on Saturdays. The Age charges $54,400 for ads placed in the news section from Monday to Friday and jumps to $81,184 on Saturdays. The Australian charges lower on weekdays at $51,680, but have the highest weekend cost at $92,027.

See the table below for comparison:

Newspaper Mon-Fri (Full Page Ad) Saturday (Full Page Ad)
Sydney Morning Herald $70,752 $88,480
The Australian $51,680 $92,072
The Age $54,400 $81,184

The price of ads for the Entertainment, Traveller, Drive, and other similar newspaper sections also varies, so you’ll need to check with the paper for up-to-date pricing. 

However, we understand tradies and small businesses rarely have an advertising budget this size. The good news is that there are a few ways to get discounts or cheaper costs for advertising in newspapers.

We have listed some ways to get a cheaper rate for newspaper ads below:

  • As A Newcomer – Some newspapers will try to entice new advertisers by offering lower rates if you are new to their newspaper. Purchasing a lot of newspaper spaces when offered a lower rate is great for leveraging the discount.
  • Sign a Contract – If you plan on placing a once-off ad, then a discount is usually out of the question. However, if you plan to place your ads in a specific newspaper regularly or on specific days within a specified timeframe, you may be able to negotiate a reduced rate by signing a contract with the newspaper agency. The contract will have you agree to publish a specific number of ads on designated dates and the newspaper will essentially reserve these spaces for you.
  • Utilise Unused Space – Sometimes, spaces that the newspaper agency has blocked off for a certain ad get cancelled last minute. Because newspaper publishers dislike having unused space in their publications, they will often sell this space to advertisers at a reduced price. Tradespeople can keep an eye out for these affordable spaces and get a good deal. 
  • Choose Local Newspapers That Cater To Your Audience – Advertising in local newspapers is without a doubt much cheaper than national newspapers. Choosing to run your ad in a local newspaper or publication that is suited to your specific niche is a good choice, since your target audience is more likely to purchase this local print. 

What Type Of Newspaper Ad Should I Use?

Text Newspaper Ads vs Display Newspaper Ads: What’s The Difference?

Text newspaper ads, more commonly known as classified ads, are small advertising messages that are placed under the ‘classified ads’ section of a newspaper. Display ads use images to convey a commercial message, often accompanied by some text as well.

Display ads are often much larger and are more eye-catching, giving your ad more of a chance of being noticed and remembered. Text ads on the other hand are less eye-catching, but you have more control over what is said in the content, as visual ads have to follow certain guidelines. 

Text Newspaper Ads Vs Display Newspaper Ads: Which Are Better?

In terms of reach and how much they grab a reader’s attention, display newspaper ads are better. This comes down to the fact that display ads are larger and have eye-catching images that are nearly impossible to miss (especially when they are full-page ads). 

Visual ads are always much easier to see and parse than text. This is especially relevant in newspapers, where the majority of the content is text based, so a display ad is going to stand out much more.

Text Newspaper Ads Vs Display Newspaper Ads: Which Are Cheaper?

Text ads or classified ads are cheaper than display ads for two primary reasons: the space each ad takes up (classified ads take less space), and the use of coloured images, which increases the cost (usually used by display newspaper ads).

Even a small display ad will be more expensive than a reasonably sized text based ad. That’s not to say that text ads are bad – in fact, a text based ad with a catchy title can be more engaging than a poorly designed display ad. It all depends on how the ad is written.  

What Makes A Good Newspaper Ad in 2022?

A good newspaper ad in 2022 is one that is quick, easy and enjoyable to read. An ad that is produced with a specific target audience in mind, and made in a way to connect with them directly, is how the most successful newspaper ads are made. 

For example, creating a white barrier around a text advertisement to draw the eye out is one of the most popular techniques to make the ad stand out.

When designing your ad, make sure the design isn’t too busy, regardless of its size in the newspaper. Newspaper agencies will only give your ad a specific space on the paper, so you must ensure the ad is straightforward while still being attractive enough to catch the readers’ attention.

Insert a Call To Action (CTA) and contact information in the ad. These will help to generate sales and leads. Including an image can also help pique a reader’s interest. Make sure the ad’s header is something catchy or memorable, too.

What Newspaper Should I Advertise In?

It’s best to advertise in a local newspaper for a smaller, local business like a plumber or electrician. Advertising in a local newspaper in your service area ensures that everyone seeing your ad is close enough to purchase your product or service. 

However, small businesses are unlikely to spend or even afford the advertising rates of newspapers, such as the Sydney Morning Herald. Therefore, it is more cost-effective to advertise in an “ultra-local community newspaper” — these are independent newspapers and newsletters scattered across states that have maintained a loyal readership. 

As the pandemic caused the closing of some newspaper agencies, these community newspapers have been able to keep both their regular contributors and readers. Among these regular contributors are the hardware stores, supermarkets, co-ops, and even tradies.

So before choosing to advertise with a popular newspaper, it might be wiser to check your community newspaper first. Not only will the advertising costs be cheaper, but you’ll be supporting a publication in your local area as well.

How Does Newspaper Advertising Compare To Other Traditional Advertising Methods?

Newspaper advertising and other conventional advertising tactics have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Newspaper advertising, for example, has a short “shelf life” as compared to other traditional channels such as magazines, radio, and television.

Newspapers vs Magazines – Advertising in newspapers allows you to target geographic segments (local, regional, and national) at a relatively low cost. Magazines usually target very specific audiences (e.g. car magazines, lifestyle magazines, travel magazines, etc.)

In addition, unlike newspapers, magazines have a much longer lead time, which means advertisements in a magazine will take some time to reach the public. Because of the way magazines are presented, they easily win in terms of advertising innovation–the pages are of higher quality, allowing for more detailed and high-resolution advertisements to be displayed. 

The principal disadvantage of newspapers is that despite being more affordable, advertisements on a newspaper only last on the days it was shown, hence its shorter “shelf life”.

Newspapers vs Radio – Advertisements played on the radio are more likely to catch the attention of listeners because of the delivery. The station’s listener will have no choice but to hear the advertisement, compared to newspaper ads which have to be seen by the reader before they read it.

However, keep in mind that even in markets with a small radio presence, there will always be a moderate number of radio stations operating. This means the audience is split up across multiple radio stations. 

In addition, a radio ad plays for a maximum of 30 seconds before it is done. So unless the listener was actively and intently trying to remember or jot down the contact number of the service he wants to use from the advertisement played, repetition is key to increase conversions through radio ads. 

Newspapers vs Television – Both can target specific audiences, but each with its own limitations. Newspapers are once again unmatched in how fast they can put your advertisement out to the public. 

It takes time for television stations to put your ads out because they can only be shown in between commercial breaks and have to compete with many other commercials for the attention of the viewer. 

But television wins for its impact on the viewers. Commercials that combine both audio and visual imagery allow the viewers to see and learn more of the product or service being provided to a degree not possible with newspaper ads. 

However, because of its excessive advertising costs compared to newspapers, TV ads are even more out-of-reach for small businesses. 

Newspaper Advertising vs Online Advertising

The biggest difference between print and online advertising is reach and targeting. Newspapers can only reach people where the newspaper is being sold, but are less targeted. Online ads can reach anyone, but can be targeted by location, demographics, browsing behaviour and more. 

No other medium of advertising can target people more accurately than online advertisements. Google Ads and social media platforms use personal information and big data to enable advertisers to target people based on their age, location, gender, interests, and so much more. 

However, unlike newspapers where readers intently read the paper, ads on social media are often scrolled over or even blocked by ad blockers installed on web browsers.

One of the biggest advantages of online advertising is the cost. Online advertising allows users to place a spending limit on the ads. So whether you can afford to pay $50 or $1,000 does not matter, as your ad will be shown and publicised according to the spending limit you have indicated. 

You’ll also get a more predictable return on investment with online marketing and lead generation. For instance, paying for quality leads means you’ll know exactly what that lead is costing you, and that the customer is very interested in making a purchase. The barrier to entry is low, and you can purchase the exact number of leads you need.

On the other hand, newspaper advertising costs tens of thousands, reaching out to readers without previous interest. This advertising strategy is high risk, unpredictable, and requires a big investment to put into action, making it far less suited for small businesses.  

Will Print Advertising Survive?

If print advertising maintains its current readership then yes, it will continue to survive. However, reading print newspapers is more and more limited to certain demographics, including regional and rural audiences. 

In a national survey conducted in Australia in 2021 with over 4,200 respondents, readers in regional and rural Australia were about five times more likely to visit the local newspaper website than Google for local news and updates. 67% would go to their local newspaper website first, compared to 13% each for Google and Facebook, and 7% for the local council website. Many of the respondents also said that if their newspapers went fully digital, they would stop reading it altogether.

What’s interesting is that the readers consider print copies of their local newspapers as an essential service for their respective communities. 86% of the respondents believe so, 6% did not think it was essential, while another 6% had no preference. 

While print advertising may not be dead anytime soon, the dynamics of how and where these papers are made available and distributed will undoubtedly shift. If your business needs to reach urban or suburban dwellers, newspaper advertising may not be the best way to get their attention. 

In the end, print advertising is dependent on advertising revenue for success – and as newspaper advertising becomes less popular, revenues will decrease for publishers. 

Print advertising just can’t offer the same benefits as digital advertising: low barriers to entry for pay-per-click and paid leads, hyper-specific targeting of your key demographics, the ability to pick up warm leads, and many more. 

If newspaper advertising isn’t a viable option for your small business, consider some of these alternatives:

Related Questions

How Many Newspapers Are Sold Every Year In Australia?

In 2018, 1,335,116 print newspapers were sold in Australia across the 12 major daily papers – two national papers and 10 state/territory papers, as audited by the Australian Bureau of Circulations (ABC). This does not include the 35 regional daily newspapers or 470 other regional and suburban newspapers. This is the most up-to-date figure on annual newspaper sales in Australia from Audited Media Association of Australia data. 

What Is The Most Popular Newspaper in Australia?

As of November 2021, The Sydney Morning Herald was the most read newspaper in Australia. It had a combined online and print audience of 8.6 million readers. Data from Roy Morgan Research showed that The Sydney Morning Herald’s readership was 78% larger than The Daily Telegraph, their direct competitor.