Saturday, March 03, 2007

Newspapers pick up online audiences

For me the news comes from two directions. One press release comes from the US and the other from my home tuff, The Netherlands. Both bear the message that newspapers are picking up more online readers.

In the US newspaper online readership soared in 4th quarter of 2006 up 6.9% to 57.6 million monthly unique visitors; a record increase since the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) started tracking the data in January 2004.More people visited newspaper Web sites; during the month of October alone 58.7 million visited newspaper sites. Presently on average more than 56 million people in the US visit newspaper sites and take 43 minutes a month to browse around the sites.In The Netherlands, a country of 16 million inhabitants, almost 5 million visitors to newspaper sites were tallied; a growth of 38 percent over 2006. This means that 1 in 3 Dutchmen visit one of the 28 logged newspaper sites monthly. The newspapers attract visitors, but the visitors do not stick to a brand of newspaper; they usually have two favourite sites, which they visit 13 times a month. The real magnets are: De Telegraaf, and de Volkskrant. De Telegraaf has a daily penetration online which is competing with its print issues. A provisionary profile of the visitors shows that the audience is young and wealthy; CEBUCO, the newspaper research organisation, will research this aspect more in depth over 2007.

It is clear that newspapers are taking internet more seriously and are getting more professional about sites and interactive marketing. It is easy to say that it was about time. In 1994 the Eindhovens Dagblad was the first newspaper in The Netherlands to have an online extension. Now online is not just an extension, but an integral part of the cross-media marketing.

Online newspapers are no longer a copy of its print counterparts. Newspaper organisations have understood that they will have to have another mission with online sites. Just saying that the print and/or online newspaper is there for the city, regional or national community is no longer good enough. Newspaper editors will have to target groups and address them at various times by various devices during the day.

Blogs and videos have become part of the online offer. In the US the NAA also revealed that traffic to blog pages at the top 10 newspaper Web sites grew 210% in December compared to the same month a year ago. Recently a press release noted that the regional newspapers in the US were doing better with videos than the local television stations. In other words regional newspapers pick up more money for video advertisements than the local newspapers.

In the Netherlands we are slower on video. Every self respecting newspaper has now videos, but they can not live from it, nor do they give any competition to regional or national television. But this might change with the introduction of the free newspaper Dag (translated: Day; Hi). This daily will be a product of the consortium KPN and PCM; it will be a cross media product from the beginning. PCM takes care of the print edition, while KPN will take care of the online, mobile and television channels. In the press release announcing the co-operation, a hint was given to a day-parting news policy, feeding different channels at different times during the day.

The news about the growing traffic is good news for the newspapers and especially for their advertisement revenues. The more visitors they get, the more money they can ask for their online activitis and assets. It also proves the media theory that after stock quotes, newspapers are the best magnets for 24/7 online traffic.

All in all, this is good news in the newspaper business. At last the newspaper companies will become cross-media companies.

Blog Posting Number: 681

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