The Age newspaper once traded very successfully on the fact that hundreds of thousands of Melbourneâ€™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 theyâ€™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 realestate.com.au 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 Ageâ€™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.Â But it’s just a mighty facade behind which you will find lumps of timber propping up the walls and roof.Â 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.Â 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).Â All of a sudden, when you strip away the deals, you’re left with a newspaper that canâ€™t have that many actual news-stand buyers.Â 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.Â Here’s a suggestion:Â maybe Fairfax should do a deal with The Greens to give free copies to every one of their members.Â Then again, maybe they already do.