11 November 2008

Old News

Working in advertising, I am aware of various mediums in which to advertise. In fact, there's new 'opportunities' available everyday - it's sickening. Everyone and their dog has an idea to stick a logo on the side of something and call it advertising or promotion. Very clever. Not all of these are crap though, just most of them.

Amongst the most used advertising mediums today, is still the newspaper. This particular outlet for ad dollars has been the mainstay of retail and the choice place for call to action advertisements.

Ah, the local newspaper; nostalgic media, great local content - a bastion for truth.

But this is all coming to an end. The newspaper industry, as we know it, is going to die a slow and painful death. And, I'm not so sure they even realize it yet.

The newspaper industry, and the business model they subscribe to, has seen little variation in the way they operate and I don't see any traditional newspapers leading the way in the new digital age.

Newspapers rely on advertising revenue to exist. Advertising revenue is based on reach. Reach is based on how many people read the paper. How many people read the paper is an esoteric and somewhat random figure based on how many subscribers there are and how many single copies are printed.

So the goal of newspapers, has been to sell or appear to sell as many papers as they can to increase how many people 'read' the papers to increase their reach to get more ad revenue, so they can exist. Simple formula, eh?

And, since the easiest way to determine the amount of regular readers is to have a subscription base; all of their efforts are to increase the amount of subscribers. This comes to much personal aggravation, especially during the dinner hour when their subscription drives are at their peak. These drives include telemarketing, door to door solicitation and high pressure sales tactics with next to free pricing. All in the hopes to get more subscribers.

In addition to the subscription drives, newspapers use random sampling at events and print extra copies by the thousands - all to demonstrate a high readership rate.

This has worked for the past hundred years Kev, so why's it going to fail now?

Because newspaper advertising is ineffective, wasteful and expensive. It is expensive because of the 'thousands of readers' they claim they have and the ad rates are linked to these numbers, it is wasteful because of the huge amount of resources it chews up daily and it is ineffective because few people actually read a newspaper anymore, and we don't know much about the ones that do - at least not well enough to target effectively.

Well, can't the newspapers just go online... wouldn't that solve the problem, Kev?

Most newspapers have gone online, that's only the first step in solving the issue. The problem is they are using the printed copy business model and trying to move it online - subscription based. Ad revenues at Google, Yahoo! and Facebook are enormous and these companies are relatively new to the advertising world. How popular would Google be if it were subscription based? Would you subscribe?

The money is in the numbers, the more people you have, the more you can charge to reach them though advertising. When you have millions of people using your product, you have an opportunity to promote to these people, and make money while doing it.

Subscriptions create an insulated environment where growth is limited - if you really want to increase readership, make it free.

Until newspapers scrap their subscription based model, people will get their news elsewhere and they will limit their ability to give advertisers a medium that works.

In addition to just mere numbers, online media has the ability to actually track usage, giving newspapers accurate numbers and data on readership such as how many people read an article, how long they spend on the page, etc. This scares the newspaper industry.

But maybe this why the newspaper industry is still so focused on subscriptions for online news - it buffers the truth, the real numbers of actual readers.

For me, I'm going to put my money where the results are. And, that, at this time, is on platforms that can justify their numbers through pay for performance advertising. Marketing Magazine Article

And, that my friends is not the newspapers... far from it.

On a side note: Is anyone aware of any recycling initiatives that have been instigated or subsidized by the newspaper industry? Why do they deliver to the door every day, but never pick up... it just seems like a huge waste of resources. Maybe there's an opportunity there for some enterprising environmentalist (I hope so).


Blogger Kevin Franco said...


12/17/2008 10:14:00 AM  

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