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Why won't this work?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by jlosasso, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. jlosasso

    jlosasso New Member

    I tried finding an answer to this on the boards but my search was unsuccessful.

    I don't understand why the following model won't work for a newspaper's online content.

    The newspaper offers free but limited content online to non-subscribers. The free users have ads on their version of the site. Enough ads that will make it profitable despite giving content away for "free", even if the ads annoys readers. If they are desperate enough for free information will they really care? Subscribers have unlimited access to all content that is exactly what is in the paper that day(like a pdf version or something), of course online would have more breaking news, online specific content and the subscriber does not have ads in their version.

    I have seen this work for other online business ventures like gaming sites and I am curious why newspapers can't do the same thing. Will this not at revenue for a paper? Ever since I started reading newspapers online because it's easier for a college student, I never understood why a model like this is not implemented. I have seen other types of sites being successful under a similar model.
  2. I think it's certainly worth a shot, if you can get other papers to do the same. I wonder if that might be the problem, nobody wants to charge while the competition is giving their content away. I'm honestly not sure.
  3. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    You mean like how subscribers here don't see ads but non-paying posters (and guests) do see ads? Less than 100 of us have volunteered to pony up some cash for that. Everybody else is reading and posting for free, despite the ads.

    If people here won't donate to avoid ads, why would Joe Reader do so to avoid them at the Podunk Press Web site?
  4. blogismycopilot

    blogismycopilot New Member

    Couple points:

    1) You say that newspapers could boost the number of ads they display, but I don't think their problem is the lack of ad space online. I could be wrong, but I think the problem lies in finding people willing to advertise online. Just because you boost the number of ads you are going to display doesn't mean you are going to find enough accounts to fill those ads.

    2) I agree this is a monkey-see, monkey-do business, but there is some good reason for the trepidation to charge. According to a quick google search, one major metro web site had online ad revenue of $30 million in 2005, growing at a rate of about 20 percent a year. So let's say they made $50 million in online ad revenue last year. The equation becomes how much subscription revenue do you think you can generate versus how much ad revenue will you lose? Let's say you charge 10 bucks a month. That's $120 per year. You would need roughly 417,000 new subscribers to generate $50 million. Even if the web site maintained 3/4 of its ad revenue, you would still need 100,000 new subscribers. And that's at $120 per year, which these days is more than a lot of people pay for the printed product.

    I think a web-based subscription model would work, but it will require time to make it profitable. And with the financial state of most newspapers, they can't afford time. At least, they can't afford time while still trying to shoulder the financial burden of turning out a daily printed product.

    Which is why I think the future of a hypothetical company will be a web-only daily presence combined with various weekly niche magazines heavy on quality photography and writing (Globe Business Weekly; Globe Sports Weekly). As that business model generates more and more revenue, I think the company will gradually reintroduce a scaled-down printed product, because commuters, diners, and shitters will always have use for one.
  5. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    And here's where it falls apart. Online ads do not pay particularly well and it is more or less impossible to turn a profit on them while paying people to produce content.
  6. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    The online ads don't make money. End of thread.
  7. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    For a long time, newspapers more or less shared a oligopoly on audiences for advertisers with a few other sources.

    The internet crushes that system and floods the market with sellers of audiences, driving down the prices faster than a dutch tulip.
  8. Magic In The Night

    Magic In The Night Active Member

    They told us last year in a meeting that Internet ads accounted for only 2% of our income at the paper. Full-page newspaper ads still pay the bulk of the freight. But here in Detroit they are trying some of these things with the new system that goes into effect March 31. Cutting down to three days home delivery that are the only three days they make money on, apparently. On the other days, a much scaled-down paper comes out and is sold at newstands, stores, etc. Also, subscribers have access to a PDF-version of the paper daily. They said this plan will save "hundreds of millions of dollars."
  9. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    Porn and gambling probably have the most successful revenue models on the Web. There are probably some lessons to be learned there even if newspaper content can't approach the same levels of product demand.
  10. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    People pay for porn. Gambling isn't paying people to produce content.

    You can't support content creation with ads. You can have people make your content for you (YouTube), you can have them pay for it (porn), but you can't support paid content creators with advertisements.
  11. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Why would advertisers want to do business with someone who tells the audience that the advertisers' existence is an annoyance, a punishment for those who are too cheap to subscribe?

    And why would a local business want to reach the least committted/consistent members of their community? It's in their best interest to reach the people who can be counted on to visit every day and who demonstrate their civic-mindedness by subscribing to the local paper/Web site.
  12. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    The question remains: Will people pay for online newspaper subscriptions in sufficient numbers to make it a profitable endeavor? I suspect many newspaper publishers are too scared to find out how little demand most of their products -- which they've willfully and greedily diluted in the name of profit margin over a period of decades -- will have as a subscription product. Those publishers who have invested in providing their readers a strong, compelling product over the years will have a chance to succeed. Those who haven't will need to invest quickly and heavily -- or fail.
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