Take the marketing view to online news
Since early 2009 the world’s media has been seriously talking about how successful charging people to read news online would be.
With the Sunday Times, The Times and now the News of the World charging customers to access news online, can their respective businesses survive?
Our answer (for what it’s worth) is yes.
As it stands…
We’ve read in the media “Pay wall causes 50 per cent drop in Times visitors” and “Paywall costs the Times 66% of its internet readership”. This paints a worrying picture for the newspaper industry, especially as the traditional form of selling the news (newspapers) is proving to be economically and socially testing.
Rupert Murdoch has been quoted saying “Quality journalism isn’t cheap”. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say mass journalism isn’t cheap – quality doesn’t play a part. It’s the convenience we get with the traditional newspaper, now the internet, which people expect. However the price the consumer is willing to pay for the service tighten the return for major media houses.
With the introduction of fee-charging internet news the product hasn’t changed, and for those who are regular subscribers to one newspaper the cost is now cheaper over the course of a month. The main change which has people in disbelief is the distribution.
Instead of selling news on tangible sheets of paper we are now consuming the information through our internet or smart phones on the go. The discomfort for consumer comes because online news was once free – now we have to pay.
What does the marketing world say?
Times change and the media industry is no different. Technology is immense. It changes rapidly and businesses either change with it or die.
In the short term newspapers will struggle and can expect dwindling numbers of visitors to their website, but unlike the quotes above we think there’s another aspect being overlooked.
Alexa.com confirms the Times website has lost around 60% of their traditional visitors. Whilst this will impact on their banner advertising revenue, they will be making additional profits elsewhere. We can expect a large percentage of the 40% still visiting the Times online are paying for the service, thus providing revenue for the media house.
What the Times has actually done is strip out the people who are not true, valuable customers! This is typically marketing – focus on a market and provide a service of value to those customers at a price they are willing to pay. OK, less visitors online could de-value the brand but having focussed on their ideal customer, ensuring they are making some kind of income and continuing to provide a service required by the customer, they have in my book strengthened their business offering.
Fact: Nobody wants to be a busy fool! No money = poor quality of service or at worst a newspaper going out of business.