3 Ways to Follow the Eyeballs and Win New Revenue

27 Jul 3 Ways to Follow the Eyeballs and Win New Revenue

The shocking truth about newspaper revenue is that despite often heroic efforts to generate more revenue from digital, the needle has barely moved since 2007! As an industry about $3.2 billion in digital revenue was generated in 2007 compared to about $3.5 billion last year, according to the Pew Research Center. During the same period print revenue declined from $42.2 billion in 2007 to $16.4 billion last year.

Meanwhile last year internet revenue growth was 20 percent, up from 16 percent the year before. Google and Facebook represent 75% of US digital advertising dollars and their share is rising.

The reasons behind these numbers are many and well documented. Dollars follow eyeballs and the fact is more eyeballs look at newspapers in print than digitally, even today. Again according to Pew:

Although the public conversation about newspapers focuses on the shift to digital, most newspaper reading still happens in print. According to readership data from Nielsen Scarborough’s 2014 Newspaper Penetration Report, 56% of those who consume a newspaper read it exclusively in print, while 11% also read it on desktop or laptop computers; 5% also read it on mobile; and another 11% read it in print, on desktop and on mobile. In total, more than eight-in-ten of those who read a newspaper do so in print, at least sometimes. Only 5% read newspapers exclusively on mobile devices.

Ironically newspapers are way ahead of their local media brethren in their pursuit of digital dollars. Radio websites for the most part remain a hot mess of on air personality egos, with no news, substance or even promotions, which radio does so well, to draw traffic. Local television sites fare better, but in most cases not a whole lot better.

In fact, while television stations will likely do reasonably well for the rest of the year, bolstered by the Olympics and Presidential elections, TV is headed for trouble. According to a new report from ZenithOptimedia, internet advertising will overtake dollars spent on television next year. Lead by Facebook and YouTube, Zenith estimates ads online and on mobile devices will account for 36 percent of all advertising spent in the world, compared with 35 percent for TV.

Like newspapers, TV stations are losing their eyeballs. Old folks still like to watch TV, just as they often still read a print newspaper. However, kids 18-24 watch only 16 hours of TV weekly, half the more than 32 hours watched by the average 35-49-year-old and less than a third of the more than 50 hours watched by those over 65.

What’s the Solution?

If local journalism is the thread that holds together the fabric of our communities, and strong communities are the foundation upon which this great nation is built, then it is imperative that something be done and soon. Here are three suggestions about where to start:

  1. Embrace mobile like never before. Sixty percent or more of traffic to top newspaper sites comes from mobile devices. Yet most sites are still designed for desktop first and mobile second. We need to start our thinking with mobile, move to the desktop and finally to print.
  2. Get serious about local native advertising. Native advertising gets 2 to 10 times more clicks than digital display advertising, it dodges ad blockers and it pleases readers. The Charleston Post and Courier will generate upwards of $300,000 in found digital dollars from native this year. You can do even better!
  3. Let data drive your decision making. Too much local media strategy is driven by tradition, emotion, intuition and wishful thinking. The digital world affords us the opportunity to measure what people do, how they react to what we do and engage in two-way conversations. We need to be driven by how people react and interact with our digit communications not by what worked for us in a past that is gone.

We need to be where the eyeballs are, everywhere the eyeballs are, and we need to get there fast. Speaking of fast if you have not seen Mary Meeker’s 2016 report on the media, at 213 slides in 27 minutes it is the greatest value you can get for time spent!