Newspapers Finally Realizing That Online Ads Shouldn't Be Ignored

from the it's-a-little-late-for-this-epiphany dept

With the Christian Science Monitor going online only, many newspapers are again re-evaluating their online strategies. When you listen to newspaper execs, you usually hear the same line over and over again: even though online page views are up and paper sales are down, the amount of ad revenue coming from online is still tiny compared to print. That’s definitely true, but a large part of the problem is that many newspapers don’t really concentrate on online sales — especially among the best targets: local businesses. Many small businesses advertise online, but because newspapers don’t court them, they go elsewhere, such as directly to Google.

The NY Times is writing about how at least some newspapers are realizing that, rather than focusing their sales efforts almost entirely on print ads, they need to start focusing on selling online ads as well. Amazingly, many of these newspapers have almost all of their sales commissions for print ads. In those cases, is it any wonder that they don’t get more online ads? In fact, many ad sales folks simply “throw in” some online ads as a bonus to get companies to sign the dotted line for print ads, which is exactly the wrong incentive needed if you’re trying to grow the online ad business.

What’s really amazing is that newspapers are just now catching on to this. They’re only about five years too late. The local businesses, which would have been interested five years ago, have figured out that there are other options for online advertising from Google to “local” sites like Yelp and CitySearch.

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Comments on “Newspapers Finally Realizing That Online Ads Shouldn't Be Ignored”

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Computer Bob (user link) says:

Online Newspaper Classified Ads

I’ve never seen all of any newspaper’s print ads in their online editions. So I have to sometimes buy their print edition, just to get some of their ads and inserts, when that’s all I want! And I never even thought of just advertising in their online editions. That’s how poorly they promote it.

So it may be too little too late for them, to compete with search engine paid ads, or even online yellow pages ads, which I’ve been using for years. Especially since most newspaper web sites are harder to use & navigate, than most of their advertising competitors.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Online Newspaper Classified Ads

Are you saying you have never seen a newspaper with their classifieds online? If so, you need to look harder because a newspaper I used to work for was doing that back 7 years ago at least and all their “sister” publications were doing so as well. What the newspaper I worked for did NOT get was to take their print advertisers and move them online. Most of the local shops would have loved that but by the time the newspaper figured that out, they had already lost revenue and readership. Actually that was around last year. I expect them to be completely out of business in a year.

Roger (user link) says:

At last! (But what about social media?)

Great point Mike! At last newspapers are catching on to the ROI of online.

They need to bear in mind that the cost of an online ad is vastly less than a print ad, so the net revenues are much greater.

An ongoing challenge will be to generate ad revenues when overall spend is declining and when users are generally turning off to online ads. Maybe they are too far behind the curve already, as @Computer Bob suggests.

Perhaps their investment should include social media strategy as well.

another mike says:


there are still ads online? oh that’s right, AdBlockPlus plugged into a real internet browser. suckers.

actually my town just set up a webpage to host ads from local businesses. and it’s not just our own craigslist page either. but the town’s so small, if i want to see the weekly specials, i’ll just walk down the street. all the businesses that matter are on the main drag, and that’s only about 30 minutes on foot.

oh the parting shot is even better. where do they advertise this shiny new website? you guessed it. in the daily paper’s dead tree edition.

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