April 23, 2009 |
Today Nielsen Online, the web measuring service, has reported some good things for one particular segment of online publishers – websites of traditional newspapers. While we’ve been talking for quite a while about how bad the situation for newspapers is with less advertising dollars in traditional print industry, it looks like things have been very different for them in one particular segment – online – and those newspapers that were willing to give proper attention to their online properties now enjoy at least attention from readers.
Basically the stats published today by Nielsen demonstrate that websites of traditional newspapers attracted an average of 73.3 million unique visitors per month during the first three months of 2009 which is an increase of 10.5% versus the same period of the last year. The figures are even more impressive with pageviews: the average number of pageviews combined for all such websites jumped 13% compared to last year. And while I don’t have any figures for how this traffic translates into money (and I suspect the situation is probably less impressive here), at least the traffic growth deserves noting.
I believe the reasons for this growth are quite obvious. First of all, many newspapers simply had to choose online-only format for their publications due to the recession which sent many of their loyal readers to their online properties – even if these people never bothered to visit the newspaper’s website in the past.
Another reason may be less obvious but it is probably valid as well: same as any profit-oriented business, newspaper publishers had to go looking for money where money exists and we’ve been talking for quite a while about how advertisers will move from traditional advertising mediums online where the ROI is better measured. So it is obvious that publishers of those very newspapers finally decided that the online space was worth their attention – either to diversify their revenue streams or to compensate for declining revenues in print with online sales.
The situation looks to be pretty positive for the newspaper publishers now. It is good that once they have decided to notice the online audience, the audience proved to be so very much willing to engage with their content. After all, people have been trusting newspapers for their information for way too long to forget that habit – and now that newspapers are willing to give the online population some proper attention, people are equally eager to consume their news from the same trusted sources that they’ve been turning to for ages.
What’s more, I think that this recession is a great time for newspapers to win at least some of the audience they have lost to new media back: now that many bloggers that used to blog for free out of their love to the process are turning to some of the more profitable activities (and this is what I’ve been noticing with quite a number of my fellow bloggers around with them focusing more on things that generate them money – be it web designing or some consulting) newspapers have pretty solid chances of grabbing some of the market share back.
But of course this will require playing wise and also learning how to engage their audience same as we, the bloggers, do for now. And those newspapers that are wise enough to act accordingly, will probably win and survive. While those who think of their online presences as another way to try and survive the recession and wait for the good times to return when advertisers pay for their print ads again, will probably be very much disappointed by what future holds for them.