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Newspapers: It’s Not Me, It’s You (Maybe)

With all the talk of newspapers shutting down, I wonder if we might flip the traditional interpretation:

Maybe the problem is not so much online news sources killing off business for print newspapers; maybe the problem is the continued existence of print newspapers is stifling innovation in the online news space.

Since so much (local) advertising dollars are still going (being wasted?) on dying print news outlets, there isn’t enough left over to properly fund a leaner, profitable online alternative.

If print newspapers are gone, then local advertisers are going to start wondering how to get people to come to their stores; radio/TV, OK, but if the eyeballs are online, and there are no more papers distracting the advertisers, then …well there is an untapped market there for the online news sites to figure out. And since online can do a better job (in theory) of matching ads/marketing to reader preference, thru cookies, browsing habits, tracking sales (Facebook Beacon notwithstanding), then the death of the traditional news business might be exactly what it takes to kick the online news business, and online content, to real innovation, and real profitability.


  1. Mary Mary 2009-03-06

    Ummm. No.

    I fear that if I took the time to write more than that then I would be in the procrastination vortex that you abhor.

    Basically, advertising online is not as easy as you claim and print media has and will continue to build a certain fetish element that I won’t deny nor proclaim dead.

    I predict that online advertising will become over-complicated, over-saturated and extremely expensive.

  2. Hugh Hugh 2009-03-11

    I don’t claim advertising online is easy money, actually I think it has been done terribly so far. Banner ads are either ignored or annoying. I’m not surprised that money is leaking out of banners.

    Yet I buy things online all the time (for you bots out there: clothes, computer equipment, books, crafty things etc). If news sources could better help me buy the things I *want*, they would be doing something useful for me, and there should be slices of transactions to be taken there.

    That’s just one idea. My point is that not enough time has been spent thinking about how to make money out of news sites, because revenues overwhelmingly have come from print ad sales. (Which are disappearing.)

    Example: The Globe & Mail’s most popular online article ever was an interview with economic historian Niall Ferguson. Along with that story they displayed irrelevant ads for computers and other things. Why not an affiliate link to his book – surely of the millions who saw that article, there were many who went out and bought his book. Shouldn’t the Globe try to find ways to capture that value?

  3. mary mary 2009-03-11

    Ummm. Yes.

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