CRASHING: The Age's vanishing "AB" readership causing angst in advertising caper

The Age newspaper once traded very successfully on the fact that hundreds of thousands of Melbourne’s richest people read it and therefore could be reached by it. Advertisers would pay a big premium to reach so many of them, especially on a Saturday which was when they’d buy the paper to check how the real estate market was holding up.

These rich readers are referred to in the industry as the “AB” demographic who are the high income, high net worth, educated literati who fuel the Age’s arrogance and once sustained its river of gold advertising.

Many of those readers can check all they need to on the predominantly News Ltd owned and the improving property section of the strongly performing Herald Sun.

Recent Morgan readership data analysed by members of the VEXNEWS Investigations Unit reveal that the Saturday Age’s AB readership has crashed from nearly 400,000 to just above 300,000 in the space of a year. Advertising industry insiders tell VEXNEWS this is real blood on the carpet stuff.

Late last week it emerged that this quarter, The Age has sunk to a new low of 190,100 copies sold per day, Monday to Friday.

Why is this so terrible?

On the face of it, a 5% decline is just more of the same for the once mighty broadsheet.  But it’s just a mighty facade behind which you will find lumps of timber propping up the walls and roof.  There’s little but thinning rows of dusty embittered scribes longing for bygone days, glancing up from their work only to see if the shuffling sound they heard was management dropping a hoped-for redundancy offer in their in-tray, or just another tumbleweed blowing through.

You see, if you subtract from that 190,000 figure the number of copies of The Age that are thrown at various different groups for next to nothing, you’re left with a newspaper that may already be out of business.  For a start there’s the controversial university students deal (15,000 per day) and teachers deal (30,000 per day), the deal for StKilda Football Club members (10,000 per day) and Melbourne Football Club members (5,000 per day) and Melbourne Victory Soccer Club member (7,000 per day).  All of a sudden, when you strip away the deals, you’re left with a newspaper that can’t have that many actual news-stand buyers.  After all, it’s a matter of public record that The Age has around 130,000 actual subscribers. Take away actual, long-suffering subscribers together with these “bogus” sales and we wonder how many “real” customers The Age actually has.  Here’s a suggestion:  maybe Fairfax should do a deal with The Greens to give free copies to every one of their members.  Then again, maybe they already do.



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22 responses to “CRASHING: The Age's vanishing "AB" readership causing angst in advertising caper

  1. A Plus B Equal C U Later

    ABs? Aren’t they just a fictional character invented by Gary Morgan?

  2. They’re very creative with numbers.
    Maybe they should all become accountants.

  3. BillfromBendigo

    By lifting standards then they will lift circulation. When they realise that their opinion is not what news is about. When providing FACTS in an EVEN and UNBIASED manner, then readers can form an opinion. They are of course battling the ever-increasing bogan population who are unlikely to be able to comprehend the cartoon section. It is here that they are hoisted on their own petard since they have encouraged leftist politics resulting in the dumbing down of the population. It won’t be missed except by those with combustion heaters in winter.

  4. MUP

    Andrew, have you read the tripe that Guthrie muppet writes on Saturdays now that the age has given him a whole column to fill once a week? No wonder the Hun arsed him. What a lightweight. I hope it didn’t take him a week to write it.

  5. Morganophile

    Interesting numbers. You should have published the age’s weekday AB readership. It’s even worse.

  6. Eddie May

    Hoy I’m a Collingwood supporter. Where’s me free newspaper? Why do saints and demon eggheads get freebies and I have to make dowith reading the menu board at maccas.

  7. Perry White

    And don’t forget the freebies they gave away with entry to the NGV. Even there I have seen many who won’t even take a free copy

  8. Syphologist

    I’m not defending the circulation of The Age, but I must point out the nonsense of that graphic.

    Make the base of the Y-axis zero instead of 300 and you get a much different picture.

    The graphic implies that circulation has shrunk by around 80% since 2007. In fact, the real shrinkage has been closer to 20%.

    Lies, damned lies, and Excel charts.

  9. Come off it

    Wishful thinking can lead to mental disease.

    The demise of The Age is frequently predicted here. A bit like those weird religious cults always predicting the end of the world.

  10. Rudi

    Your article assumes that AB readers have stopped reading the Age when in reality many of them have probably stopped buying the newspaper and read what they want online. I fall into the AB category and now only buy newspapers – the Australian, the Age and sometimes the AFR and the Herald Sun – on Saturday and for the rest of the week read what I want online.

    Many newspapers give away free copies. For example, my local parking station gives away free copies of the Herald Sun whenever circulation figures are being counted.

  11. Pedantry won't save Her

    Desr syphologist, nice work. If you don;t like the numbers, criticise the presentation. Fact is, in 12 months, the age has lost nearly 60,000 high net worth readers that form the basis of its claim to be a premium advertising platform. Feel free to get your crayons out and re-draw the axis, but it won’t bring them readers back.
    And as for you, Rudi, those Morgan numbers measure READERS, not BUYERS. You can prop up sales with dodgy deals like the Age does, but you can’t hide a loss of readers from Mad Dog Morgan.

  12. Arseologist

    Syphologist is obviously a Fairfax flunkie. Here’s an idea to fix your problem – make the scale on the left of the graph run from zero to a million. that way the age’s readership problems will be invisible to the naked eye. and you’ll feel so much better. Then take a bex and have a good lie down. xx

  13. Arseologist

    And while we’re at it: “Come off it” is right, VEXNEWS has been predicting the demise of the age for a while now. Every day brings that demise just a little closer. Good things come to those who wait, comrade.

  14. mick

    Chartsmanship is a common favourite of cause pushers The Age supports (eg, catastrophic alarmist warmies). Why shouldnt they get it straight back? 🙂

  15. golly

    but..but..dut… the people of melbourne just don’t deserve a paper as good as the age — a paper that boldly and bravely challenges their readers’ bourgeois preconceptions, transgresses their sensibilities with writers like Deveny and forces them to confront the reality of climate catastrophism with endless alarms about the end being nigh.

    And readers turn away, the ignorant pigs!!!

    Memo from Ramadge: There is nothing wrong with our paper. It is the readers who are broken.

  16. joffa

    The Age doesn’t seem aware that the world extends beyond the borders of Fitzroy North. It’s become dominated by pretentious, inner city fixie-riding wankers. For proof of this, look no further than The Zone with wanker-in-cheif Michael Short. Or the painfully pretentious Epicure writer Larissa Dubecki giving us all inside gossip from the inner-city cafe scene in which her husband is a big don. Who cares? Yawn.

  17. Rudi

    Dear Pedantry won’t save her,

    True the survey measures readers of newspapers rather than purchasers, but if you look at the methodology for Morgans surveys they are ask a person if he or she has read the newspaper rather than asking if he or she has read the website for the newspaper. Us ABs like pedantry,you know.


  18. Grover

    I’m an AB reader. Yes, I read Andrew Bolt.

  19. Dan Lewis

    It’s a shame that the rusted on Fairfax readers haven’t glanced at other papers in years and don’t realise how much their papers have slipped.

    The Australian gets better and better. The Cut and Paste column is a useful replacement for the Corrections page missing in The Age.

  20. Mick T

    I note the Age is a heavily leaning lefty publication and its deals with the uni students and teachers.This reminds me of an interview Mike Willisee did with a retired deputy of ASIO in the early 80’s.When asked what the biggest threat to Australia was he said it was the teachers union as it was controlled by Russian Intelligence.Their mission was to dumb down the population over time. With the help of lefty publications they are succeeding.

  21. bill

    But why do they give it away to Melbourne Victory supporteres? There wouldnt be an AB anywhere in the crowd at a soccer match

  22. Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

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