Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Online Advertising

It’s not just a bandwagon anymore
The digital age — although not without its bumps in the road — can be an extremely good resource for newspapers, if papers take the risk to invest in an ever-changing global marketplace.

The time has come for newspapers to start thinking of new revenue sources that extend beyond the scope of traditional marketing and sales strategies. The Internet is formidable competitor, and is uniting the public with the ability to be in constant and ever-changing contact with each other.  Although the newspaper a symbol of our personal and community histories, it, as an industry, will fall if the digital era is met with a staunch opposition to take risks. This is not to say that the structure of the newspaper cannot remain the same, or that the paper can no longer be the community’s source for local news. But the newspaper must be as adaptable as any other surviving industry to remain as such.

There is good news, however. The newspaper, more than any other organization or company in a local market, is substantially connected to the local community. Unlike “pure play” sites — sites or companies that have singular business goals — the newspaper has been bonded to local marketplaces as a multifunctional advertising source and news outlet for generations. Although the online marketplace is damaging newspaper ad sales and readership, the newspaper and its staff must look past their traditions to discover the paper’s true digital potential as a community hub of news and local resources as its printed version has been for so many years. The newspapers can then emerge from their glory days into a new age of revenue sources and profits.

One way to do this, as discussed in an article called “Can Newspapers Create New Revenue Stream with ‘Digital Malls’?” on Poynter.com, is to rebrand newspaper home pages as “digital malls” that not only provide daily local and national news, but also provide “traditional and non-traditional content, that would be the equivalent of a flagship store that draws people to a brick and-mortar mall.” This analogy, when applied to newspapers, implies that the goal is not to simply exist, but become a reason to visit, and thus continue shopping. By changing the interface of the newspaper’s website to demonstrate that by staying and shopping, consumers can simplify their lives, newspapers can change the way they are perceived by the Internet shopper.

Newspapers can link to or support various retailers, both local and nonlocal to give consumers the very best and easiest online experience when it comes to shopping. Those retailers, instead of simply being advertisers, would instead be advertised and accessible, and give the newspaper a percentage of what was sold when something was purchased through a newspaper’s link.

Although some “pure play” websites already do this, newspapers are in a good position; “newspapers still have a window of opportunity with the local/hyperlocal card…because they can contextualize and link the mall boutiques, in a way that the pure-play verticals cannot,” says Jim Chisholm, a newspaper consultant who was asked to comment on the subject by the article’s author, Rick Edmonds. Newspapers understand the local market and are hugely connected in a way that out-of-town, large singly minded online sources, can’t.

Edmonds also discusses that the inspiration for this idea came from Schibsted, a Norwegian publisher who “shifted the majority of its revenues and an even larger share of profits to digital. The company has five of the top 10 sites in Scandinavia, he said, including a weight-loss club.” The author of this article expressed skepticism, however, that newspapers cannot react quickly enough to develop their strategies in order to keep up with new technologies, in a way that does not merely placate the masses with a “Like” button, but trail blazes new and effective routes to being online leaders in revenue and profits.

All in all, the digital age — although not without its bumps in the road — can be an extremely good resource for newspapers, if papers take the risk to invest in an ever-changing global marketplace. The Internet is not bad for newspapers, but can be if newspapers steadfastly subscribe to outdated traditions. This is not to say that traditions shouldn’t still have a place in the newspaper industry, but it is important to appeal to all generations of readers and advertisers, not only the one’s they’ve had for decades.