Saving Newspapers

Today’s “Locals Only” column, which I’m taking a break from, at Search Engine Land is about the challenges newspapers face — written by Marchex COO John Keister.

Keister lays out the situation and alludes, at the end, to some of the local SEM efforts that a few newspapers have  undertaken. To date most of those have been with WebVisible. If newspapers were smart they would do a range of things:

  • Agressively embrace (and monetize) mobile (See AP/Verve). Get out in front of this medium
  • Mimic the YP industry and sell search marketing, websites, video, etc.
  • Leverage any and all relevant ad networks (Centro, Yahoo, quadrantOne, etc.) to get more money from their sites
  • Participate in Google Print
  • Add community to their flagship sites (via Topix, CityVoter); improve usability and site search
  • Build other types of sites: verticals, mom sites, unconventional hybrids, neighborhood level sites. If they can’t build ’em in house, partner with those (e.g., who can
  • Get more deeply into local shopping (via local inventory data providers)
  • Syndicate their content and ads widely. Adopt the “agency” model, vis-a-vis advertisers, that YP has.

This sounds like a “hodge podge” of to-dos. But unfortunately they’ve got to fight the war on many fronts to survive. But it probably is already “too late” for some metro dailies.


Here’s an interesting, related piece from Editor & Publisher on new business and ownership models (non-profit, coop, etc.) for newspapers.


4 Responses to “Saving Newspapers”

  1. Tim Cohn Says:

    Newspapers particularly those who have enjoyed monopoly status over the majority of their lives by definition aren’t populated by warriors and therein lies their problem.

  2. Malcolm Lewis Says:

    Nice summary, Greg. IMO, the key is an expansion of your last point. Their greatest asset is their combined strength. If only they could/would adopt a common platform to bilaterally share and monetize their content, ad sales and ad distribution.

    Imagine the leverage, for example, in negotiating ad distribution deals that connect ad network partners (Yahoo, etc.) into the combined traffic of all major newspapers. Or the appeal to advertisers and agencies of a single ad buy that taps into that same aggregate traffic.

    I suspect the only way this could happen would be if the majority of newspapers (by reach) were consolidated under a single owner.

  3. Can the Newspapers Be Saved?-- rentBits Rental Blog Says:

    […] Sterling of Screenwerk also adds: If newspapers were smart they would do a range of […]

  4. Manny Otiko Says:

    I have been reading your comments about online advertising and the state of newspapers. I agree with your views, and if the newspaper industry does not figure out how to make online advertising work soon, they will be eclipsed by other media. (Actually this may have already happened)

    I saw that you have written about WebVisible in the past. Kirsten Mangers, WebVisible CEO, recently served on a panel with experts from Google and FastCompany TV, at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference.
    Please contact me if you are interested in scheduling an interview.

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