Is newspaper advertising dead?

Real Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services

Is The Newspaper Dead?


Here are some facts that will set up the blog post. Since 1990 newspaper readership has declined by 24,000,000 while the population has grown by 69,000,000. There are 69 million more potential readers but here are the numbers for Sunday readership. In 1990, 60 million people read the Sunday paper and today 44,000,000 million people read the Sunday paper. The population in 1990 was 267 million and today it is 317 million. In 1990, 24% of the population read the newspaper but today the numbers appear to be more like 13%.


If the stats suggest that a person moves every 7 years then I suggest only 1 out of 7 who get the paper read the real estate classifieds.


My local paper professes to have 67,000 Sunday readers so let's divide by 7. What we get is a pool of about 9,500 potential callers. Of that number 33% are renters so now the pool is 6,270 and I would give back half of 1/12 being optimistic that these renters are going to buy a house when their lease expires so now we,re at 6,400.  This is a pretty good audience. Filtering the numbers even further I might suggest that of those only 1% might be called to action. Let's filter again, by eliminating those readers that could not quality for a loan. This gets tougher because newspapers want you to believe they cater to adult, affluent, educated readers. Here I have to make some conservative guesses. It's anybody's guess but if I line up 64 adults I suspect a conservative 15% of them could not qualify for a loan. That brings me down to about 54 possible buyers. Now let's filter for papers on newsstands that don't sell, hotels and libraries and various other outlets used to boost publication numbers and pull 2 more buyer prospects from the pool. that brings us to 52 buyers in the entire newspapers readership.


So you run an ad and in the end 52 potential buyers see it. That's pretty good. 52 calls would be awesome. (At this point I'm excited and still think newspaper might have potential), so how come I never get 52 calls. Sometimes I don't even get 1 call. Let's filter again.


Are you trying to sell a traditional condominium than your audience is a scant 14% of these 52 potential buyers or 7 total potential buyers for your listing in the entire readership of the paper.


Is it a luxury gated community, walled or fenced then you are advertising to about 7-8 % of the market or 4 total potential buyers.


The filters keep adding on such as the population under 34 prefer to rent, ethnic groups or even illegal residents have higher rent numbers. Obviously price point is a filter as is bedroom count.


In my conclusion, I think there are too many external factors to make the newspaper an effective value for real estate advertising and that doesn't even take into account that users who read the paper may still prefer the interactive experience of on line searching versus a static experience of the newspaper. The cost per potential lead is just too high when compared to options like pay per click. A 65.00 weekend ad that reaches 4 potential buyers compared to the same money spent on pay per click which could bring 250 users to your website for the same money vividly highlights why papers are contracting and the internet is expanding.


In a future post on my Facebook page Internet 4 Real Estate I am going to blog on the ease and simplicity of using pay per click to support your listings. Please follow me on Facebook and Active Rain.





Re-Blogged 5 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Alivia Roberts 10/20/2014 09:25 AM
  2. John DL Arendsen 10/20/2014 09:58 AM
  3. Florida Tolbert Team Keller Williams Advantage 10/20/2014 11:08 AM
  4. Praful Thakkar 10/21/2014 10:39 AM
  5. Winston Heverly 07/03/2015 01:09 PM
Real Estate Best Practices
newspaper advertising

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Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

I miss the Sunday paper and sitting with  cup of coffee in the morning with my paper...but not enough to have a subscription. lol

Oct 21, 2014 02:54 AM #71
Chris and Dick Dovorany
Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida - Naples, FL
Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty

Your post is now part of our listing presentation.  We've never done newspaper advertising and now we can show people it's useless.

Oct 21, 2014 03:27 AM #72
Jon K. Judd
Keller Williams Realty - Central Delaware - Dover, DE
GRI, e-PRO, SFR, Delaware Homes

In our office meeting today it was mentioned that one of our agents had 20 show up for her open house.... out of those... NONE saw the ad that was in our local paper... They all found the open house through the internet from other online  sources for which our MLS sends it out too...  As stated in another entry above, it's usually put in the paper now because the client wants to see it... or feel that we are using "their" dollars to help find them a buyer.... 

Oct 21, 2014 03:27 AM #73
Donny Carter
Carter & Roque Real Estate - Frostburg, MD
Mountain Maryland Real Estate Expert

A short testimonial to show how true your post is:  Our company used to purchase a full color spread on the whole back page of our local paper.  It was beautiful but indeed very expensive. After realizing that not many buyers we mentioning this gorgeous ad, we scaled back on the paper advertising. With that $$ re-invested in pay-per-click and a website overhaul, we have actually seen many more clients through the door.   

Oct 21, 2014 04:40 AM #74
Christine O'Shea
Christine E O'Shea Broker-Associate - Naples, FL

Newspaper advertising is useless (unless you are training a puppy or eating steamed crabs)  I have been subscribing to the local paper on line and occassionally purchase on Sunday for the advertisements.

Oct 21, 2014 04:51 AM #75
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Folks that are renting are typically of a certain age demographic . . . they fall into the group that doesn't know what a newspaper is.

Oct 21, 2014 05:09 AM #76
Chris Griffith
Downing-Frye Realty, Bonita Springs, FL - Bonita Springs, FL
Bonita Springs Listing Agent

Thank you, Steven Schafer .

Oct 21, 2014 05:22 AM #77
Jeff Jensen
The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states - Greenwich, CT

It always amazes how sellers want their houses in the paper yet look for their new ones on line.

Oct 21, 2014 07:45 AM #78
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

Agreed, especially in larger cities. Your point about PPC also goes well with me because when you think of lead generation on Zillow and Trulia it has a striking resemblance to the newspaper format, a lot of nothing and waste you pay for versus targeted ads to who you are trying to attract on Google, Youtube, or Facebook.


Oct 21, 2014 08:36 AM #79
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Steven Schafer - well put and nice analysis on why there are better cost effective options available to us for marketing/advertising.

Oct 21, 2014 10:36 AM #80
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

In our area we have seen many papers consolidating or just shutting down. I doubt they are doing that because of the volume of ads they run

Oct 21, 2014 11:07 AM #81
Catherine Ulrey
Keller Williams Capital City - Salem, OR
Equestrian and Acreage Property Specialist

Totally agree. I stopped using it years ago.  But, I do think that if your target market uses the newspaper, then you should advertise there.  I would imagine it's a very small sliver of the market.

Oct 21, 2014 02:16 PM #82
Sybil Campbell
Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia - Williamsburg, VA
REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia

I believe there is still potential in advertising in the newspaper, but it doesn't pack the punch that it did 10 or 15 years ago.

Oct 21, 2014 10:36 PM #84
Kevin Mackessy
Blue Olive Properties, LLC - Highlands Ranch, CO
Dedicated. Qualified. Local.

We are trying a print ad in our local neighborhood's newspaper.  That way it is more narrowed down and might reach someone within our area.  

Oct 22, 2014 06:07 AM #85
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Print is simply a poor investment.  The ROI just isn't there and the results are extremely iffy.  Real estate listings in the paper have been replaced by vanity ads.

Oct 22, 2014 07:12 AM #86
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

Small town works for newspaper ads.  These are weekly papers.  I rarely ...if ever... advertise in daily newspapers.

I also have had zero positive experience with pay per click but do know there are hundreds of Micky Mouse's and Daffy Duck's out there...because they all cost me click money in the past....But never again!!

Oct 22, 2014 08:14 AM #87
Gail Robinson
William Raveis Real Estate - Southport, CT
CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT

I've tried print advertising over the past ten years, but the ROI while never good has become zero over the past few years.  Buyers look online for their next homes, so put the money into great photography instead.

Oct 23, 2014 01:43 AM #88
Deleted Account
Fort Myers, FL

I have never used the newspaper for advertising.  I was asked by a potential client why I didn't.  I asked the potential client when the last time he looked at a newspaper was and his answer was 3 years.  He knew I was right at that point.

I also did a survey of people in my neighborhood who get the paper.  I asked roughly 150 people why they got the paper and if they ever looked at the real estate section.  Only 3-4 looked at the real estate section, but it wasn't to buy a home, it was the question and answer section about owning a home.  The majority of everyone else bought the paper for the comics, the coupons, the crossword puzzle, to see what's on TV or the sports section.

Oct 24, 2014 11:03 AM #89
Carolyn Boyle
RE/MAX Quality Service, Inc. - Hanover, PA
REALTOR, Associate Broker, CRS, GRI, ABR, SRES

Excellent points here! Our daily newspaper went to 2x a week and I believe the only readership we get is the elderly who won't give up their paper for anything!

Oct 28, 2014 10:19 AM #90
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

Hi Steven~ You really took the time to number crunch in this exercise. I would agree that overall newspaper marketing is DEAD. However, I think you can still have some success depending on what you have to advertise.

Oct 28, 2014 10:22 AM #91
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