Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Newsprint is wasted on the young

Adam Penenberg at Wired says, "Newspapers Should Really Worry":
    [Young] focus-group participants declared they wouldn't accept a Washington Post subscription even if it were free. The main reason (and I'm not making this up): They didn't like the idea of old newspapers piling up in their houses.

    Don't think for a minute that young people don't read ... They access The Washington Post website or surf Google News, where they select from literally thousands of information sources. They receive RSS feeds on their PDAs or visit bloggers whose views mesh with their own.

    In short, they customize their news-gathering experience in a way a single paper publication could never do. And their hands never get dirty from newsprint.
But should newspapers be worried? This trend toward online news is an opportunity. No longer are newspaper articles competing for scarce space on the front page and the limited space available on the newsprint. No longer are articles limited to distribution to a localized markets.

The online news audience is massive and worldwide. It's hungry for your content. All you have to do is give it to them.

[via Scripting News]


Nathan Weinberg said...

I think that newspapers cannot work with the online market. Online advertising will never pull in the revenues that print does, and reporters are expensive. The idea that newspapers piling up is a concern is ridiculous. Go into any college dorm room, and all you see are piles of Maxim and FHM. Young readers like to save the things they read, but they have no interest in saving newspapers, because papers aren't written for them. The first newspaper that targets a young audience is going to see enormous circulation.

Greg Linden said...

Hi, Nathan. You bring up an interesting question.

Why do you think that online advertising will always be less lucrative than print advertising?

I think it is true that it is less lucrative now, largely because many advertisers still haven't embraced the online medium. But will it always be true? Why?

I'm genuinely curious. I can't think of a reason that should be the case. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on it.

Nathan Weinberg said...

It's actually quite simple. I know that even a small newspaper can sell a small ad for hundreds of dollars. Several pages of newspaper ads can, in turn, bring in enormous profit margins. It is why small newspapers are described as "printing money". They print for $2500 a week, and sell many thousands more than that in ads. Its why the Times can pay thousands of employees full-time salaries despite putting out a full color, several hundred page paper every day. Small newspapers only exist because they are powerful niches for advertisers, causing advertisers to spend enormous sums for small circulation. Larger newspapers need those large margins to support massive expenses. Without expensive ads, there is no newspaper business. Online ads don't deliver that kind of money.

Simply put, what is a good margin for 1,000 impressions? For a newspaper, its $500, minimum. No online ad can deliver those numbers.