Gazette sees major boost in circulation; online readers drive gains

The Daily Gazette saw its circulation increase 22 percent through March 31 compared with a year ago,

The Daily Gazette saw its circulation increase 22 percent through March 31 compared with a year ago, one of a handful of newspapers in the United States to see gains, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The Gazette’s daily average circulation, Monday through Friday, stood at 55,338, up 22 percent from March 31, 2009. The Sunday Gazette’s circulation increased 24 percent, to 54,793, and the Saturday Gazette’s circulation jumped 22 percent, also to 54,793.

James Grandy, assistant general manager for the Gazette, said the newspaper’s circulation is up “because we are charging for online access.” The Gazette started charging an access fee for the electronic version of the newspaper last August. Under ABC rules, newspapers can count online subscriptions as paid circulation. Online subscriptions account for all of the Gazette’s circulation increase, as subscriptions to the print edition have declined, Grandy said.

The Gazette has a variety of subscription offers for customers, including a package where they can purchase the print edition and also receive the Gazette electronic version for 1 cent. The electronic Gazette can also be viewed through smart phones, Grandy said.

Those subscribers that buy both the print and electronic versions are counted twice, another factor that helped fuel The Gazette’s big circulation jump.

Grandy said the decision to move to a pay site paid off, especially for advertisers. “We wanted to get better Web traffic. By limiting access to our site, the traffic is good,” he said.

When the Gazette’s Web site was free, traffic was high but the viewers were diverse. After the pay wall went up, “our traffic went down, but it is a more valuable traffic to a local advertiser. It is all local people,” Grandy said.

The Gazette’s Web site had 1.7 million page views per month when it was free. Pay views are now about one million per month and climbing. Also, when the site was free, people tended to view on average two pages per month. On the pay site, they are viewing four to five pages per month, something Grandy called “stickiness.”

“They are sticking with us longer,” he said.

The Gazette was one 11 newspapers in the United States that saw circulation growth of 4 percent or more, according to the ABC. The Gazette was tied with the Naples Daily News in Florida at 22 percent.

In New York, the Wall Street Journal and the Register Star in Hudson were the only papers besides The Gazette that saw circulation increases. The largest newspaper in the Capital Region, the Times Union, saw a 4 percent decrease in daily circulation, to 74,895, while its Sunday paper circulation increased slightly from 141,105 to 141,120.

Mark Vinciguerra, circulation director for the Times Union, said the newspaper no longer considers the Monday through Friday metric significant for business purposes. “We are concentrating on growing the print numbers on days most favored by advertisers and readers, which are Thursday and Sunday,” he said.

In that regard, the paper is succeeding, he said. The circulation for the Times Union’s Sunday edition remains the largest in the Capital Region.

Vinciguerra said circulation for the Times Union’s Thursday edition is on average 33 percent higher compared to the six-day average, making it the second strongest paper of the week.

“This is the eighth consecutive reporting period judged year to year that the Sunday circulation has been up,” Vinciguerra said.

The Times Union does not charge for its Web site, and does not plan to charge for it in the near future, Vinciguerra said. “Overall our audience is growing, if you combine the Web and the print.”

Circulation figures for other newspapers in the Capital Region are:

— Post-Star, Glens Falls, daily circulation: 27,990. This is down from the March 31, 2009, circulation total of 29,506.

— The Leader-Herald, Gloversville: 9,130, down from 9,654.

— The Saratogian, Saratoga Springs: 7,066, down from 7,583.

— The Recorder in Amsterdam no longer reports its circulation figures to the ABC.

Jorge Velasquez, circulation director for the Naples Daily News, said the paper’s increase is due primarily to converting its Newspapers In Education project to an electronic version for use in local schools. “Every single classroom has access to the Internet and to our newspaper,” he said.

Print subscriptions are down, he added.

The Naples Daily News is also aggressively marketing single sales of its newspaper and is targeting seasonal visitors to purchase the electronic version. “In the future, we are moving from the printed delivery method to the electronic version,” Velasquez said. “We are looking to expand into the iPad and Kindle; we are working to be cutting edge.”

Velasquez said newspapers have to adapt to survive. “Staying relevant, that is what it is all about,” he said.

Mike Muszall is circulation director for the Macomb Daily in Macomb County, Mich., which lies directly outside of Detroit. The Macomb Daily saw its circulation increase 13 percent, to 54,240, through March 31, the third-highest increase in the nation.

Unlike the other newspapers mentioned, the Macomb Daily saw its print subscriptions increase rather than its electronic version. “My electronic editions went down, my home delivery increased. It was a good statement for us,” Muszall said.

The Macomb Daily’s circulation increased after the Detroit News cut back daily home delivery to three days a week. “We were the only other option for seven-day delivery,” Muszall said. “A lot of the auto workers live here and work in the city. We touch on Detroit and state news.”

Muszall said the Macomb Daily several years ago converted its NIE project to an electronic version and introduced a Web site, and saw the year-to-year spike then that the Naples Daily News saw this year. But the boost comes with a price.

“You will be fighting a hell of a number year over year. The circulation will be there, but if you are trying the beat that number and it is not there, it will not be a pretty picture. You are not seeing growth in a tradition areas of circulation,” Muszall said.

Categories: Business

Leave a Reply