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Connect with younger readers

How Digital Publishers Can Connect with Younger Readers

Top Strategies to Connect with Younger Readers

Eighteen to 34. That’s the most coveted age demographic among brand advertisers. Because advertisers care so much about reaching consumers between the ages of 18 and 34, that’s also the demographic news publishers should be engaging with to keep their advertiser clients satisfied.

Consumers in the 18-to-34 demographic have more money to spend on the products and services that advertisers are selling, and they’re at an age where the money they earn is more likely to go towards expensive “toys” than investments. Consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 are also less likely to have developed the types of brand loyalty that can be difficult, if not downright impossible, to break.

Basically, advertisers feel like they have a greater opportunity to convert consumers between the ages 18 and 34, making this a highly desired demographic.

The challenge here is that people who consume news tend to be older than this demographic, and that’s making it hard for local news publishers to charge a premium to advertise in their publications.

The Digital/Print Divide

The idea that people who consume news the most frequently tend to be older than the age demographic advertisers are trying to reach has been around for a long time, but new research is showing that the long held belief might not necessarily be rooted in truth.

It’s true that over the past decade, local newspapers have been having increasing difficulty finding new ways to connect with younger readers, leading to dissatisfaction and frustration among regular advertisers. According to Pew Research, 63% of news readers over age 65 prefer to read print papers. But among digital-first publications, the average age of readers is much younger.

Younger readers, the kind advertisers covet, are more likely to get their news through digital platforms than print. Eighty-one percent of 18- to 29-year-olds who would rather read their news than watch it on television prefer to get their news online. Even young adults who would rather watch their news than read it are switching to digital channels. According to that same Pew survey, 57% of 18- to 29-year-old news watchers prefer to get their news on television, and 37% prefer the web.

When it comes to advertising on news platforms, businesses are more likely to connect with younger readers when they advertise on digital publications than print or television. Digital publishers should be trumpeting these types of surveys in their media kits and other sales materials. Educating would-be advertisers about the benefits of running display and native advertising on digital-first publications, given the desirable demographics of their readers, is one of the first steps a sales team should take.

Of course, just having a web product doesn’t necessarily mean a publication is going to have a wealth of younger readers. Local news publications, in particular, can sometimes struggle to attract the attention of readers in their teens, twenties, and early thirties. For these publishers, in particular, we recommend the following strategies to connect with younger readers.

How to Connect with Younger Readers

#1: Meet them on their platforms
Young people might not be hanging out on the online platforms you’d expect. Many teens and twenty-somethings have traded in Facebook and Twitter for platforms like YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Snapchat. Finding ways to engage audiences on those platforms is an important first step in being able to connect with younger readers.

#2: Test migration strategies
How do you get the people who’ve followed your publication or “liked” your content on social media platforms to visit your website? The answer will be different for every publication, which is why we recommend experimenting and testing as much as possible during the early days. Catchy headlines, desirable incentives, and even online contests have been used effectively. For the Financial Times, simply adding emojis to the messages its social media team was sending through WhatsApp had a positive effect on click-through-rates, since emojis made the publisher’s messages seem more informal.

#3: Craft new content strategies
Let’s say you were able to connect with younger readers via Instagram and Snapchat, and you used incentives to bring them back to your publication’s website. How do you go about keeping those new readers engaged? One way is by producing more content in the forms that appeal to younger audiences. For example, through Google Analytics and reader surveys, you might discover that younger readers prefer shorter articles or articles in Q&A format. Or maybe you’re learning that they would rather watch video content. Some publishers are even creating digital games that users can play alongside traditional news articles and op-ed commentaries.

How is your publication reaching out to younger readers? Send us an email and let us know what has—and hasn’t—been working for you.