It’s no surprise to anyone that traditional newspapers are seeing a decline in revenue. People are becoming more online savvy and looking to new media, including social media, for information and analysis.
However, all is not lost for old school media outlets. Although newspapers are still seeing a decline in revenue, it’s not as significant as it was a few years ago.
“I wouldn’t call it a renaissance for newspapers, but I would definitely call it a stabilization,” said Gordon Borrell, CEO and media analyst at Borrell Associates.
Still, a smaller decline in revenue does not equate to a growth in revenue, which is in the best interests of every business. So, how can newspapers stem their losses and start seeing growth? Here are 4 ways.
1. Increased Circulation
Some Analysts claim that newspapers are moving towards a business model that places a greater emphasis on circulation. In the past, circulation revenue contributed to 20% or less of total print revenue. However, now it accounts for about 30% or more at some newspapers.
For example, at The New York Times, circulation revenue accounted for 27.2% of total revenue in 2003. However, by 2013, circulation revenue for that newspaper skyrocketed to almost half of the total revenue.
There is a similar story at Gannett. In 2003, circulation accounted for 22% of total revenue. In 2013, it was up to 33% of total revenue.
It is clear, then, that one way to turn around the overall revenue losses suffered by newspapers is to put in place a marketing plan that includes an emphasis on circulation. Since it’s clearly a growing revenue sector, at least for some papers, publishers would do well to ride that wave as long as possible.
The trend on the Internet is to obtain information for free. Still, some newspaper companies that are household names have seen successful with charging people to read articles online.
Usually, an online newspaper paywall is presented in the form of a teaser. A user clicks on an article that seems interesting. The user is allowed to read the first few paragraphs of the article. However, to read the rest of the article, the user must “sign in.” The sign-in process, unsurprisingly, requests some form of payment.
Paywalls are only a successful business model if the content on the newspaper site is continually compelling. Not too many people are likely to pay for a subscription to read only one article. The newspaper must have a reputation of producing high-quality content.
3. Increased Subscription Prices
Newspaper companies can also raise their subscription prices. If the increase is nominal, it’s not likely that the company will receive a lot of pushback or, worse, cancellations.
As with the previous point, though, an increase in subscription prices is only a successful tactic if the content in the newspaper is worth reading. Whenever people are faced with a price increase about anything, they have a tendency to ask, “Is it worth it?” Publishers will need to ensure that it is worth it.
4. Digital Advertising
The competition in digital advertising is cutthroat, but that doesn’t mean that online newspapers can’t earn additional revenue from online advertisements.
One possibility for gaining revenue via digital advertising is to use native advertising. That’s when the advertisements tend to blend in with the online content. They almost look like part of the content, as opposed to a formal advertisement.
As noted in this space, The Wall Street Journal recently moved to native advertising even though that newspaper’s editor had previously objected to the concept. That newspaper clearly saw an opportunity for enhanced revenue with native advertising.
There are also other, eye-catching online advertising options. Some advertisements appear in the form of a video, which increases the likelihood that people will notice and click on them. Other ads are pop-ups, which can be annoying to some but are definitely noticeable.
Although newspapers have been seeing a decline in revenue in recent years, there is still the prospect for a positive turnaround. As long as people want news, newspapers can make money.