With approximately 2.7 billion people worldwide reading newspapers in print and more than 770 million on digital desktop platforms, it’s clear that news products remain in high demand. In fact, for the first time this century, global newspaper circulation revenues are higher than advertising revenues. These and other statistics were revealed in the World Press Trends (WPT) 2015 report. It was published by WAN-IFRA, the global organization for newspapers and news publishers — and leading provider of industry research and analysis.

Audiences have emerged as publishers’ biggest source of revenue. In 2014, the news publishing industry outperformed the book publishing, music and film industries. This is a result of efforts to discover new markets and new business models that are aligned with today’s production, circulation and advertising revenues. Publishers have recognized the need to move beyond just print to capture audiences’ attention on multiple platforms. The result is a newspaper industry that’s laser focused on delivering news when, where and how their audiences want it across multiple platforms.  

Read on for a look at some of what’s contributing to these changes and reshaping the future of publishing.  

Understanding Audiences

While some paint a picture of doom and gloom for the newspaper industry, that’s simply not the case. In fact, more than 80% of adults worldwide read a newspaper at least once a month.  Globally, print circulation grew by 6.4% in 2014, compared to a year earlier and 16.5% over the last five years. Much of this is due to pricing. The report suggests that newspapers are extremely adept at pricing strategy. So much so that in some markets, circulation revenues have remained steady even as prices went up and the number of readers went down.   

For most newspapers around the world, print will continue to be a major revenue builder for the foreseeable future. Yet, things are changing as digital platforms light up worldwide. Because of that, it’s important for the industry to understand how the needs and desires of newspaper readers differ from place to place. What’s trending in one part of the world may not be in another. The only commonality seems to be the desire for news itself.  

A Digital Deluge

Mobile is making its mark. In 2014, mobile beat out the desktop when it came to accessing news. In the advertising arena, mobile is experiencing rapid growth and is expected to reach $52 billion in revenue in 2017. Even more exciting is the growth of mobile apps. WPT says mobile apps are expected to reach $70 billion worldwide by 2017, representing a big opportunity for publishers. With 4 billion smartphones on the planet, the shift to mobile is monumental and extremely important to publishers as it’s changing “the way news is packaged, distributed, discovered, and consumed.”  

While coffee used to be first on the list in the morning, it has taken a back seat to checking our smartphones. Eighty percent of us check our phones within 15 minutes of waking – and many sooner than that. According to comScore, “The leading media properties now see 30% or more of their monthly audiences coming exclusively from mobile platforms.” Nearly half of US smartphone owners are using apps to consume news.  

According to Pew Research, 19 out of the top 25 US newspapers are seeing at least 10% more traffic coming from mobile versus the desktop. While this is certainly taking some getting used to, it’s a huge opportunity for publishers who embrace mobile technology and invest in ways to attract and retain their readers. Research will be key to helping the industry understand how best to make that happen, but expect social media to be an important driver of mobile growth.  

Related:  Beyond the Likes and Tweets: How Social Media Can Benefit News Publishers

New Age Advertising

While the digital movement presents many opportunities on the circulation and news consumption fronts, it has drastically changed what once was a tried and true advertising formula. While traditional newspaper advertising still plays a role, it’s no longer the only game in town. Modern-day advertisers have more than 60 different channels to choose from.

Television continues to claim the lion’s share of global ad revenues, followed by desktop and mobile internet. Internet ad spend overtook total ad spend on both newspapers and magazines in 2014. What’s more, mobile advertising is growing nine times faster than mobile internet and is expected to grow by an average of nearly 40% a year by 2017. Despite this growth, industry experts don’t think digital advertising has the muscle to replace print revenue anytime soon. For this reason, the news industry is seeking out other revenue streams, and employing technology that enables them to reduce costs and streamline processes.

Related: Why Every Media Company Should Have a Business Intelligence Dashboard

All in all, the publishing industry shows much promise. The combination of print and digital is growing newspaper audiences globally – and newspapers are successfully proving their value.  The challenge is to measure the reach of content on all platforms with new and better metrics.  Additional discussions and collaboration will be needed, but there’s no doubt that the industry will continue to grow its value, reach and impact.