Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Think Integration, Not Separation: Using the Newspaper to Develop Internet Ad Strategies

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Think Integration, Not Separation: Using the Newspaper to Develop Internet Ad Strategies

Article excerpt

Having come from the world of media management, I have a great interest in how media companies are coping with new technologies and developing a business model that creates value and profits.

As I look at the media responses to new Internet-based alternatives, I find that media respond to new technologies in a silo fashion. That is, they tend to create products that stand by themselves but can be bundled.

It seems that a more studied, strategic approach to new product development is in order.

Consider the classified section of the newspaper. The Internet's ability to allow consumers to search quickly to find products that match their needs has made the newspaper-classified section seemingly obsolete. Specialized search engines quickly decimated the merchandise, employment, auto, and real estate listings.

Over the past few years there have been new versions of Internet classified search engines. In fact, so many have been introduced it is difficult for advertisers to decide which to use.

So why didn't newspapers create the Internet alternative? The simple answer is they tried. They developed websites that offered the same attributes as the competition, but the innovators on the Internet had already made headway in attracting an audience, a large number of whom were not newspaper readers.

The newspapers tried to preserve their successful model and simultaneously attract a new audience--a response that usually involved the creation of a website that operated separately from the printed edition's organizational structure. The results have not been encouraging. Newspapers continue to be under financial pressure as their audiences and ad revenues shrink.

I have long been an advocate of melding Internet operations with the newspaper organization model as opposed to creating a separate organization to operate the newspapers' websites. If the newspapers' classified department managed the websites' classified revenue goals, the marketing solutions would have been different.

I would think that under this scenario, products would have been developed that would have integrated the strengths of both products and built the audiences of both simultaneously. For example, newspaper websites could offer their classified customers, for a small fee, an opportunity to place a two- or three-line ad in the printed and digital editions of the newspaper, directing the reader to the website. …

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