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Increase in readership and advertising revenue highlights the successful evolution of Total News

In recent years we have witnessed an incredible evolution in media. Traditional notions of media formats and channels have blurred.

This is certainly the case with news. Although it is carried across a multitude of media channels in a range of formats, the mission of news remains the same – to inform people of relevant events through trusted content from Australian journalists.

While news consumption is now device and format agnostic, the engagement news generates with audiences remains strong.

This evolution has given rise to the concept of Total News which defines news as being based on the content rather than the format, platform, or technology. The term was introduced in 2021 alongside the appointment of Roy Morgan to measure and report news readership. The Total News metric goes beyond the siloed view of news in digital and printed form.

According to the General Manager at the news advocacy group ThinkNewsBrands, Vanessa Lyons, Total News more accurately represents how Australians view and consume news today.

“The definition has been reframed so that people see news as a media channel in its own right, similar to how they engage with TV, regardless of the technology of delivery,” she says.

Growing strength

News has always been a mainstay of the Australian media experience, and the past two years have been no different with Australians turning to news to stay informed through natural disasters and the Covid crisis. Now, with the invasion of Ukraine and a federal election looming, 2022 is set to continue the trend of increasing news consumption.

The latest Roy Morgan readership figures show ongoing strong engagement with Total News with readership increasing in all states, up 0.9% overall, to now reach 97% of the adult population. The data also shows that news has solid reach across all demographics, including younger audiences.

The Chief Executive Officer at Roy Morgan, Michele Levine, says readership on a cross-platform basis demonstrates strength across the sector, with most of the top 10 brands increasing audiences year on year.

“Following the massive disruptions to personal and professional lives in early 2020, which forced an accelerated adoption of digital technologies for work and home life, 2021 saw the continued rise of news across states and demographics,” Levine says. “This reflects the essential need for consumers to have up-to-date information and proves the power of news as one of the most engaging media channels.”

Levine says Total News creates an opportunity to put consumers ahead of the channels, and better reflects how audiences view and consume news and media.

“Consumers don’t see the world through media silos – they aren’t fixated on whether the news they are engaging with is online or print,” Levine says. “Consumers seek out content first – whether that be news, film, or other forms of entertainment. Then they decide how they will consume it – be it in print, on mobile or desktop.”

According to Lyons, Total News presents an opportunity for advertisers to reach a large and engaged audience, as it continues to generate lean-in moments.

“The way consumers behave with news, regardless of whether it is in print, in digital, or TV, creates emotional connection and engagement. For advertisers this opens up strong opportunities that they can be leveraging,” Lyons says.

An unprecedented opportunity

According to the Managing Director of the revenue reporting group Standard Media Index (SMI), Jane Ractliffe, news revenue has recovered from the pandemic's initial onset, which affected several media channels. The latest SMI figures show news to be up 10.2 per cent for 2021.

“We’d expect the increasing focus on the premium nature of the news media will further grow news’ share of total ad spend as advertisers wanting to deliver important messages to their customers increasingly look to the reliable news environments,” Ractliffe says.

Ractliffe says news has been one the fastest evolving media formats, with 30 per cent of all news ad spend delivered to news-based websites since 2017. She also applauds the introduction of the Total News readership metric.

“This change reflects the evolution of the print industry into a vibrant multimedia sector,” Ractliffe says. “As the media world continues to change, it’s more important than ever for advertisers to have confidence in their advertising environment. The news environment is obviously a premium market given the content base and now this move gives advertisers the ability to track ad demand for news and other important metrics more easily.”

Given all this, Lyons says news needs to be in the consideration set of all marketers.

“This is a channel that has evolved,” Lyons says. “The readership figures and ad revenue prove that. It is a channel that is relevant today to all consumers in Australia.

“If you are trying to have effective reach and engage Australian consumers, that is when the news environment delivers.”

To find out more about the opportunities Total News provides advertisers, visit

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