But what to wrap fish in now?
A newspaper in Wisconsin has become online-only, getting rid of print early this week. As both a former journalist and a digital marketing evangelist, I’m positive the decision serves not just newspaper readers, but the publication’s advertisers and even the paper’s own marketing goals.
The Capital Times, a 91-year-old daily in Madison, explained the decision in part: ”We want to ensure that Madison, Dane County and Wisconsin have an independent voice for peace and economic and social justice that speaks truth to power each and every day.” (I remember the days when I had such an idealistic outlook!) Bottom line: The newspaper knew that digital media is trumping print, and to meet its lofty goals it had to make a drastic change.
By going all-digital (except for a free weekly version), The Capital Times is giving readers the news in exactly the way an increasing majority of them want it: On their computers.
Meanwhile, the paper is preventing self-cannibalizing of its advertising and marketing departments by not forcing clients to choose between online and print ads. Furthermore, these departments can focus on creating ads that better service their clients by better-targeting the audience. Here’s why:
- Unlike print, online classifieds can be kept perpetually up-to-date, while the hard-of-seeing don’t have to suffer tiny type since they can enlarge the views on their computers.
- The newspaper will no doubt offer RSS and/or email (and perhaps SMS) subscriptions to readers. In addition, if it’s smart, it could also offer subscriptions to certain kinds of news, like ”entertainment,” or ”sports,” or ”local politics,” or ”letters to the editor.” With such targeting of readers in place, the newspaper could then serve up digital ads according to the individual reader’s interest – in other words, engage in behaviorally-targeted ads.
- By engaging consumers to sign up for news reports, the publication will create a database of readers and their contact information. It could then ask readers if they want to receive email or SMS coupons and other promotions from third-party sources – advertisers who before would have paid for display ads in the paper. Before you worry that few people would sign up for such messages, consider that many newspaper subscribers take the paper for the ads and coupons. Sometimes, almost exclusively for those money-saving products. So a newspaper audience would in fact be an ideal demographic for targeted messaging.
Meanwhile, by going all-digital for both editorial and advertising content, and by maintaining databases of readers’ digital contact information, The Capital Times can market itself too. Unlike days of yore, when newspapers spent money on local TV ads and billboards, the Madison publication can reach people who they know will be receptive to the message. In addition, it now can redirect resources to boosting its online presence, perhaps with SEO endeavors, building and/or joining online communities, etc.
Wow, newspapers could be relevant again!
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
”I’d rather you text me”