10 May 2021
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Advertisements and newspapers have a relationship that goes a long way back.

According to a report, in the last year, the government spent Rs2.5 billion on ads in newspapers. This is just the federal government. Most provincial governments spend the same amount or even more.

But are ads in newspapers relevant anymore? Are they helping the government reach out to its target audience? Is readership in the country the same as compared to what it was five years back?

A survey by SAMAA TV revealed that in the past few years, newspaper readership has drastically fallen. Anwer Ali, a newspaper vendor in Karachi’s Saddar, said that sales have plummeted to three to four copies a day.

“This is a copy of Pakistan’s best newspaper,” he said, holding up one edition of DAWN. “I got five of these in the morning and just three have sold.”

Back in 2009, 150,000 copies of newspapers were published in Karachi in a day. The circulation back then was between 30,000 and 35,000. This has now dropped to 5,000.

But then why are ads still published in newspapers? According to SAMAA TV Islamabad Bureau Chief Khalid Azeem, newspapers are a way for the government to influence media houses. In other instances, it legalises its affairs as well.

But what’s the point if these papers are not accessible to people or do not interest them anymore, Azeem asked.

A majority of people are moving online today. About 60 million people across the country are internet users. Of these 43 million use phones which is their main source of news as well.

The internet and social media have opened wide avenues for advertisers as well. “Whether you spend Rs1,000 or Rs100,000, you will get a breakdown of what and where your money was used on,” digital marketing expert, Waleed Ahmed said while talking about ads online.

You will get the effectiveness of your ad as well i.e. how many people saw it, how many people clicked on it etc, he added.

Amidst all these technological advancements, both digital experts and people have expressed surprise over why the government is exhausting money on newspaper ads.

Abdul Gh Lone

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