Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Newspapers online and offline

Adam Penenberg at Wired has a recent article that starts by talking about how the New York Times articles and archives are poorly represented in web search engines like Google. But the article later moves into a discussion of online news in general and what traditional newspapers should think about for their news websites.

One issue is that online readers are much more numerous but much less dedicated than print subscription readers.
    The Times attracts 9 million unique visitors a month, while only about 1 million read the daily paper. On average, visitors spend about 43 minutes a month on the website, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, which gives them just enough time to sample a story or two that interests them. That's a fraction of the 28.2 minutes per day (3.4 times per week) a typical reader spends on the morning newspaper.
There are huge differences between the behavior of your online and offline readers. News websites should optimize for more casual and ephemeral online visits by taking advantage of the online format. Specifically:
    The Times should customize its content so that readers could pick and choose which stories they want based on their own particular interests, rather than having to wade through the site's table of contents.
What is being suggested here is personalized news. Take advantage of the online media format. Customize each page to each reader's interests.

Because each reader spends so little time online (1.5 minutes/day online vs. 28.2 minutes/day offline), online readers generate much less revenue for newspapers ($11/user online vs. $900/user offline). By responding dynamically to the needs and interests of their customers, online news sites can increase the amount of time their readers spend on their site and increase advertising revenue.

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