Monetizing Online: A Keeper for Newspaper CFOs

April 15, 2009

Please, click here to read “One Paper’s Online-Only Move Had Little Effect on Web Traffic, Study Says”, an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal’s Web log. The article describes the impact of shifting to online from traditional print for a sample of one. You can read a summary of the case example by an academic here. The study reveals that the newspaper suffered a decline in traffic. The assumption of the dead tree crowd was that online traffic would increase because readers of print would become readers of online news. Wrongo. For me the most interesting comment in the WSJ article was this statement:

“It doesn’t make for very pleasant reading,” he [WSJ source] acknowledges. “The Web is a fundamentally different medium, and you have to completely revise your expectations of how your audience is going to use your content if you’re publishing exclusively online.”

For more analysis of online, run a query on this Beyond Search Web log for “mysteries of online”. I posted a series of write ups that bring together observations and findings I have compiled over the last 30 years based on my experience in online. Hint: demographics and habit come into play. MBAs thinking often goes off the rails, but my, oh my, are the mavens confident. A zippy search system doesn’t work without traffic. Come to think about it, neither does online advertising.

Stephen Arnold, April 15, 2009


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