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The changing face of newspapers

The changing face of newspapers

By zap zap blogspot

The incessant coverage of Trump, including all the items on fake news and ‘alternative facts’ once again underscore the changing face of news delivery. Social media is shaking up news delivery.

Television will survive in the form of clips. Radio will survive by virtue of the car. Print is evolving rapidly. A scan of the field shows that print reader numbers are declining, reporter numbers are in decline, and print editions are also in decline as they can be replaced by electronic delivery.

There obvious implication is the loss of the captive audience for advertising. This is a potential loss of revenue for the news provider aligned to a potential loss of reach for the advertiser.

The new circulation audit cannot be measured by print and must account for unique visitors (excluding robots that index the site), location of visitors, page views (not hits), time spent on site and duration of page views. All of this is quite possible with a good site statistics module.

In terms of advertising, there is a heavy emphasis on click-through rates, which is a very important measure. This measure often assumes that advertising is interesting enough to click on, and failures to click are due to the medium. If the advertising is dull and uninviting, the fault lies with the advertiser.

There is a second caveat to this, which is passive browsing habits. Sometimes people don’t click on ads because of the effort of opening and viewing a new page. They do however still see the ad, like they did in the newspaper, so advertisers have to take the power of display into account, as well as adapt execution of the material to the medium.

The third caveat is that the advertiser must have an interesting site or area to link to. If the site is unchanging, rarely updated, it will be the same as asking people to read the same brochure again and again.

Drawing an audience to the news has also evolved. In the past, the newspaper could display itself on a rack or a counter, where it would be purchased either regularly or on impulse.

Without a print edition, a new mechanism has evolved to draw attention to the news, a combination of social media and email. Both of these draw readers to the site with links.

In the case of social media, a blurb is posted with a link. For best effect the posted item must be boosted on social media. Given the very low cost of receiving tens of thousands of serves on Facebook for instance, this seems like a logical route.

Facebook allows development of an audience through targeting. It is possible to buy ‘likes’ for a Facebook page in a targeted group. This should however be tempered with the knowledge that ‘friends of friends’ will dilute targeting. So, for instance, if a doctor likes an item on a Facebook page, it is very likely that one of her / his connections on Facebook will like the same item, as well as the page.

In the case of email, an adequate email list has to be developed. Although the ineptly named CanSpamm Act states that emails must be received on a consent basis, most Namibian media houses that use email ignore this. Email management is a task on its own, including ensuring that unsubscribe mechanisms are in place, and deleting failed email addresses that may get the email rated as spam.

Like social media, email contains links to the article, but there is a further opportunity to earn with advertising on the email.

What you have read is the general status of press evolution. There are other mechanisms that are being employed. The Guardian, one of the most reputable news sources, is worth a look. In addition to social media and mail, the site is employing a high degree of content segmentation to reach targeted audiences, it is using video, it has a digital edition, closed site areas and also sells products.

The shape of the newspaper is changing, but with a bit of inventiveness it can be an opportunity.

About The Author

Pierre Maré

Pierre Maré is a multi-awarded Namibian advertising strategist and copy writer. From 2004 to 2016 he wrote a weekly tongue-in-cheek column for the Namibia Economist, eventually amassing an impressive 590 articles over the almost 12-year period. This series of Offbeat is a digital rerun of his pieces that received the highest reader acclaim. - Ed.