Newspapers: underestimating RPC, but not much to look forward to

Looks like some newpaper salespeople may be underestimating - or overestimating - their reader per copy number. By relying on an national average RPC* of 2.3, they may be overlooking much more favourable local readership numbers:

    "... ABC and NSA ... found a wide range in individual newspapers from 1.8 to 4.4 RPC. From this base, 38 daily newspapers confirm around 2.3 RPC -- the national average -- but 46 papers report a lower RPC and 153 papers show a higher RPC than the national average.

    In other words, using 2.3 RPC to arrive at readership is only accurate 16% of the time. In the majority of these cases (65%), using the national RPC "underestimates daily individual newspaper readership by as much as 91%," according to the report."(Editor & Publisher)

These numbers might be a source of inspiration for some salespeople and publishers - if Goldman wasn't forecasting a weak year ahead for the industry:

    "The weak ad environment for newspapers has caused Goldman to scale back its 2006 growth forecast to 3.5 percent from 4.0 percent. ... national ad growth would once again be weakest at 1.0 percent, followed by retail, 2.5 percent, and classifieds at 3.6 percent. The bright spot continues to be online newspaper revenues, which are projected to grow an impressive 25 percent in 2006. Despite this, online will still represent 5.0 percent of total newspaper revenues.(MediaPost)

Well, at least things are looking up for online and classifieds. Or should I say Craigslist?

*"newspaper specific readership estimate divided by paid circulation equals newspaper specific RPC"

In