The newspaper industry is in big trouble.
That’s the general sentiment you hear when looking at how that industry is performing year over year in terms of revenues. We see more and more newsrooms shutting down. We hear the harrowing tales of how journalists are being let go. There are the woes of advertising revenues shifting from newspapers to other media channels, and let’s not forget how heavily leveraged these publishers are due to investments in printers, etc…
Then there are those who think that the newspaper industry must do doing a lot more to embrace new media and the Internet if they want to survive at all.
On Thursday, the Newspaper Association of America issued a press release surrounding a custom analysis developed in conjunction with Nielsen Online for the Newspaper Association of America titled, Newspaper Web Site Audience Increases Sixteen Percent In Third Quarter to 68.3 Million Visitors, but that’s not the big news. Here’s how Marketing Charts breaks it down:
"Newspaper websites each month attracted, on average, more than 68.3 million unique visitors (41.4% of all internet users), during the third quarter of 2008 – a record number, and a 15.8% increase over the year-earlier quarter… Moreover, newspaper website visitors generated an average of 3.5 billion pageviews per month throughout the quarter – an increase of 25.2% over the 2.8 billion pageviews a year earlier – and the highest level for any quarter since NAA began tracking the data in 2004."
With over 41% of Internet users and over 3.5 billion pageviews per month shouldn’t newspapers be reeling in the revenues?
Maybe the ad revenue is not enough? What about selling from the website? Contextual ads like Google AdWords? Affiliate marketing initiatives? cross-channel promotions? Premium content? Something more?
What is going on here?
“Newspapers are continuing to enhance their Web sites with dynamic features, video and other interactive tools that deliver high levels of user engagement,” said Randy Bennett, NAA’s senior vice president of Audience and New Business Development. “The dramatic increase in page views suggests users are visiting newspaper Web sites frequently throughout the day.”
There’s no doubt that the upcoming U.S. presidential election is also igniting a lot of this traffic. Just yesterday, I noticed that the number one ranked Blog in Technorati was The Huffington Post (I thought Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Engadget and Boing Boing battled for that position).
Looking at the size of audience newspapers have online, thinking about their revenue streams and listening to the woes of this industry over the past few years, it’s hard to understand how things are going to significantly change with new media if they’re already having difficulty figuring out how to make money from almost half of all Internet users.