It used to be relatively simple to understand the performance of regional publishers: a/ list the sales of all titles in descending order, b/ analyse the proportions owned by each publisher.
How times have changed! Look at the latest ABCs for the second half of 2016 and there’s an avalanche of statistics: the biggest websites, fastest-growing websites, largest social media handles, fastest-growing social media handles, biggest daily and weekly print sales, and the ‘best declines’ in those print sales.
This, of course, is exactly what advertisers need in today’s fast-changing and fragmenting media world, but it makes it difficult to construct a single ‘league table’ to measure the performance of individual publishers.
And so in an attempt to bring some easy-to-understand order to the marketplace – and for a bit of visual fun – I’ve constructed a unique view of publishers’ ABC statistics in 11 pie charts.
In summary, this suggests Trinity Mirror is out-performing the regional media in total website and social media audiences, with Archant hot on its heels in terms of ‘fastest growth’. (Post-publication note: Not all of Newsquest’s and Johnston Press’ websites and none of their social media followers are ABC audited.)
Meanwhile, Johnston Press is underperforming in daily and weekly print circulations, while Newsquest is out-performing in terms of ‘best declines’ in both daily and weekly publications.
The starting point was to consider publishers’ regional market shares, and although the Media Reform Coalition’s Who Owns the Media report from 2015 had a good stab, there are no accepted figures for this.
This blog directly asked four trusted senior industry sources, and even then the answers differed because they made their estimates based on different criteria – number of titles, circulation, web audience, and so on.
With all that as a huge caveat, my own estimate – which is basically an average of all the above sources – comes out as follows:
With those estimated market shares in mind, I then took the ‘Top 20′ titles from each data area as a snapshot of how publishers are performing.
Pie chart #2 shows Trinity Mirror out-performing the market to dominate the biggest websites with 12 of their titles in the top 20 for the highest ‘daily unique’ visitors:
But look at the figures another way, in terms of ‘fastest-growing’ websites, and pie chart #3 shows that Archant suddenly dominates with 11 in the top 20 – albeit these are relatively tiny websites:
Next up comes social media, and pie chart #4 shows Trinity Mirror running away with 16 of its titles in the top 20 for total Twitter followers. (Remember, Newsquest and Johnston Press could not be included in this or the next three tables because their social media figures are not ABC audited.)
Archant shows its social media progress in pie chart #5 with six of its titles coming second to Trinity Mirror’s nine titles in the top 20 for fastest-growing Twitter followers:
Pie chart #6 is for the top 20 totals of Facebook ‘likes’, and again Trinity Mirror titles massively dominate:
Archant’s determination comes through even stronger in pie chart #7 which sees 14 of its titles in the top 20 for fastest-growing Facebook ‘likes':
The above measurements are important in the modern media world: social media not only tallies ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ but can also tempt readers to become unique visitors to websites.
But care needs to be taken. For example, Trinity Mirror’s latest results revealed that £581 million of revenues still came from print last year, with just £79 million from digital, and other publishers’ proportions are likely to be similar.
Those revenue shares will continue to change, with print revenues declining and digital revenues growing, but the sheer size of print still means that traditional publishing has to be taken seriously.
With that in mind, it’s interesting to see Trinity Mirror out-performing and Johnston Press and Newsquest seemingly underperforming their market shares when it comes to the top 20 daily print circulations, as seen in pie chart #8 (again, note that Johnston Press and Newsquest don’t record ABCs for all its titles):
Pie chart #9 turns things around, with Newsquest out-performing in terms of ‘best declines’ in daily print circulation, with nine of its titles in the top 20:
Trinity Mirror is back on top when it comes to the highest paid-for weekly print circulations in pie chart #10:
But Newsquest comes back into the battle when it comes to ‘best declines for the weeklies in pie chart #11:
It’s encouraging to see a number of independent publishers making the top 20 in all four pie charts covering print circulations, although they all need to put more focus on website and social media.
Who ate all the pies? Well, it was nearly Trinity Mirror running off with the whole tray, but some fine displays from Archant and Newsquest are keeping them on their toes.
There’s another big caveat on all the above which is implicit in my constant reference to the ‘top 20′: I’m sure you could change the pie proportions if you re-analysed the top 50, top 75, etc.
But for me, the top 20 was enough effort, given I’ve got to give myself time to carry on eating real pies ..! Enjoy your slicing …
Many thanks to www.meta-chart.com for the graphics.