Sometime back, I’d written about the need for newspapers to give the digital medium a bit more consideration in their strategy. While India claims to buck the trend of falling newspaper subscriptions, I wonder how many economies have a thriving newspaper ‘raddi‘ market, the process through which the Indian household gains money by selling old newspapers as scrap.
A few days back, Google announced its efforts to bring old newspapers onto the internet. The Google News Archive is being expanded and will let you search newspaper archives from decades back. I did a few searches, and for now it only has the already digitized versions of newspapers (in India), its a long and arduous task, but well worthwhile for Google. Over time, they plan to blend these into Google search results also.
Meanwhile, the latest group to join the anti Google-Yahoo bandwagon happen to be WAN (World Association of Newspapers) Their concern is that advertisers will increasingly migrate to Google from Yahoo when they see diminishing price advantages on the latter. (via Startup Meme) So the deal will give Google ‘super powers’ and weaken the competition in the search-ad market, since the two players had so far forced each other to give the best possible terms to publishers, like newspapers who offer display and search ads on their websites – a consortium of 200 US newspapers run Yahoo ads.
So newspapers are afraid that their revenue from third party ads served by Google/Yahoo would reduce? To me, it looks like if they had developed better ways of selling their own ad space, maybe they wouldn’t be looking like a bunch of whining kids. It adds to my belief that newspapers refuse to treat the online medium with the respect it deserves, and only react when their turf/revenue gets affected. I recently read this post, which explains how, many newspapers and magazines employ their regular ‘interruption advertising model’ even on their websites.
However, some top newspapers, are showing exactly why they are where they are. The NYT has an offer of a ‘print ad free with an online ad’. A daring reversal, that is perhaps aimed at switching the relative positions of print and digital, from a revenue perspective? The WSJ, has changed its design recently, and that includes adding a social network, the big deviation from normal procedure being that this one has paid access. While this might be considered not-so-smart in the era of free Facebook and LinkedIn networks, I think Mashable’s argument in favor of WSJ’s move has merit. The Time article also states that this might become available to non paying users as well, and there are plans to integrate it with existing social networks. I think that if WSJ can back this move with some really good content that is flitered for its elite paying subscribers, this could be a long term winner.
And while all that’s been happening across the seas, Google’s relationship with local newspapers is different. It has come up with Google News in Malayalam, which indexes news from almost all leading offline and online sources, with Malayala Manorama conspicuous by its absence. Other languages are coming soon. (via Medianama)
With digitising newspaers and local language news Google seems to be pushing from different directions. But, as these sites have shown in search, it is possible to best Google. For newspapers, its not just Google, there are different threats. For example, GateHouse Media is starting an online-only daily in Batavia, NY. They see tremendous opportunity for a local news and community site, since the leading local newspaper does not have content on its website. (via Publishing 2.0) This opportunity could exist in any place with good internet penetration and where the local newspaper hasn’t capitalised on that. On a sidenote, here’s a good post on how the traditional syndication means used by newspapers might expect a reversal soon.
Newspapers really need to pull up their socks and figure out how the digital media figure in their strategy. Now, though I might get lynched for this, already Web18′s consolidated reach has beaten that of the Times Group (India’s largest media entity), on the internet. And in.com, the portal which I think would be their flagship property on the internet, is still in beta. Why is the Times Group, with the #1 selling English daily, #1 finance daily, several language dailies, TV channels, radio stations etc not India’s #1 website. I think its a mindset issue.
I wonder, whether, with rising newsprint costs, and environmental concerns ( trees geting cut for newsprint), it might be a good idea for newspapers to start work on a Kindle like thing to distribute content, especially after I read this recent story on Kindle.
until next time, print this?