Analysis: Online enriches newspaper offers
Last month, at a Washington conference for editors, News International boss Rupert Murdoch warned that newspapers that fail to solve the issue of the web do so at their peril.
He told news providers they need to offer places for consumers to converse and allow bloggers and podcasters to exchange views. "The next generation of people have a different set of expectations about the kind of news they will get, including when and how they will get it and who they'll get it from," says Murdoch.
So, more than a decade since the launch of the UK's first online newspaper (Electronic Telegraph in 1994), has the press still to make sense of digital?
The bosses of the digital arms of the national dailies don't think so.
Mark Milner, chief operating officer at Associated New Media, points out that the initial worries that offline sales would be cannibalised have proved to be groundless.
"There's no evidence to say we are producing a web site that has a negative impact on sales. All the stuff I've seen has done the opposite," he says.
"We regard The Daily Mail site as a brand extension of the newspaper.
Take the newspaper readers who also go online; they are entering the brand through a different media. The site can introduce a new set of people to the brand."
Milner points out that online provides extra revenue. "Cross-media deals are an obvious area," he says. "Web site and print should work together."
For example, if The Daily Mail was running a scratch-card offer in the newspaper, it could offer an interactive version on the web site. Or, if it printed a competition to win a cruise, it could make the web the entry point. "The internet can give the interaction where a newspaper generates the starting point."
Likewise, the web can be used to drive traffic to the newspaper. The Daily Mail is broken down into sections. On Wednesdays, it runs Money Mail, its finance section, the content of which can be advertised online.
"We could promote on the site that tomorrow's finance section will have a feature on how the Election will change readers' finances. This encourages sales for the next day. If people want to order home-delivery on the site we can do it," he adds.
But, then, audiences also go to the internet for updates from services such as the BBC and Google. BBC news online (www.bbc.co.uk/news) and bbc.co.uk led the field in April, receiving more than 30 per cent of all visits to media and news sites, according to Hitwise. Recently it allowed other sites to integrate its RSS feeds for free.
Milner argues that readers are loyal to a particular newspaper. "Just because Google offers a news fix (from lots of sources), it doesn't affect the relationship people have with a paper. That's very strong and Google doesn't have that heritage. The loyalty and trust that people have with a brand are what is important here," he says. "Newspapers spark debate."
While an interesting article in a newspaper provokes discussion, Milner reckons online is a much stronger vehicle for debate. "I get to publish my views on a web site and people can comment on them online. I can enter a debate with other like-minded readers - Google lacks that debate."
Simon Waldman, director of specialist and digital publishing at Guardian Unlimited, points out that the internet also offers new revenue from classified and display ads. When it saw recruitment was migrating online, it relaunched its jobs site to help users while maximising the commercial opportunities for advertisers. As a result, recruitment revenues are up 100 per cent on last year. He puts this success down to the immediacy, interactivity, permanence and depth of online.
The Press Association has traditionally supplied news and stills via the wire to its shareholders but, says Asha Oberoi, head of multimedia editorial: "We decided to develop video as part of our online capability."
The PA supplies video footage of events and broadcasts interviews to newspapers and media companies. It trialled the service by supplying footage of the royal wedding to The Daily Mail. The newspaper described how the wedding might unfold and drove readers to the site to view the video.
Later in the day, readers could watch a PA video summary of the event online.
"The term 'newspaper' suggests printed copy, but they are really information suppliers - in a particular flavour or style, depending on the paper," says Oberoi.
"They provide pictures and text, so why can't they also supply video. I think web sites are an investment for them in terms of driving newspaper sales and there will be growth. The business model in terms of revenue is through advertising.
"What they need to do now is to look for new customers and it's more than likely that those customers will be on the end of a digital device," she adds.
She predicts that newspapers will become brands that deliver information through a series of outlets, whether that's via on-demand TV, the web site, mobile or in print. "You might develop 'The Sun user', which decides the application and context to access content."
Oberoi says The Sun operates by running a few lines of text online to drive customers to read the full feature in print. "Their strategy is not to put a lot of text on the site, which is all well and good, but you need to put something else there instead."
She sees a future for video journalism, in which investigative features for the newspaper could be turned into video interview content online.
In the words of Murdoch: "In the future, our hope should be that, for those who start their day online, it will be with coffee and our web site."
TOP 15 NEWSPAPER WEB SITES
Rank Web site Market share (%)
1 BBC News 15.70
2 BBC.co.uk 15.01
3 BBC Weather Centre 4.25
4 Guardian Unlimited 1.58
5 Google UK News 1.57
6 CNN.com 1.49
7 The Weather Channel (UK) 1.28
8 Met Office 1.25
9 Yahoo! UK & Ireland News 1.23
10 Times Online 1.22
11 Telegraph 1.09
12 The Sun 0.85
13 ITV 0.79
14 NME.com 0.67
15 FT.com 0.66
Source: Hitwise, April 2005.
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk
Latest jobs Jobs web feed
- Responsive Designer (Top 10 NMA) Premier Media £35K + benefits, Central London
- Award-Winning Integrated Creative Team Premier Media Circa 55K + Benefits, Central London
- Designer - Fashion E-commerce retail brand Creative Recruitment £90 - £120 per day, City of London
- Marketing Manager Ball & Hoolahan £44,000 per annum + bens, West London
- Project Manager Gemini Search £40000 - £45000 per annum, City of London
- Digital Brand Director EMR £100000 - £120000 per annum + benefits, City of London