Mark Evens says - Over the past little while, the Toronto Star has been running a series of in-house ads about how newspapers play an important role in delivering the news. Today, for example, there’s a full-page ad that says: “You shouldn’t have to search for clarity or direction”. The ads are creative and they do make you think about how newspapers play a vibrant role in the news ecosystem. But they are dancing around the key issue: the economic model in which newspapers give away all of their online content doesn’t work.
It is becoming obvious newspapers must start charging for their online content. I’m not talking about Great Wall-like pay walls in which every story is buried unless you pay but a variety of user-friendly subscriptions that provide value to readers while providing revenue to newspapers.
I think that maybe markets under the age of 20 could be pulled over to paying online for newspaper content, particularly if it was .01c per day.
Baby Boomers are just never going to pay for newspaper content online personally for a whole host of psychological and social reasons which have been discussed for the past 15 years – ad nauseam. Accept that brutal fact. Once the newspaper publisher accepts that, how else can they do the business model?
First, look at the life blood of the paper – ad revenues. We all know there is a Chinese wall between advertisers and editors. There is your first paradigm shift required – to sell content into aggregators like TD Bank. For current editors, that idea is too much of a shift. Imagine though, if you looked at target market for content. Let’s use Margaret Wente who would be of interest to women Baby Boomers, a great target market.
Second, who are top richest Canadian companies – the big banks. Could you sell Margeret Wente to TD Bank’s Wealth section, who are trying to add value to the day of a Boomer woman?
American Express gets early tickets to AGO and ROM special events. Why couldn’t TD Bank have early editions of The National Post only available to its TD clients? As TD clients log into TD, they would get the online National Post too for free. That would build client loyalty for TD and aggregate a readership for the newspaper, building a new habit of going online to check the bank balance and read the paper.