New Business Models For Newspapers

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 21 january 2009

With news that not even Google can make traditional print advertising work, Jeff Jarvis has some thoughts on new models that newspapers could consider. Jarvis argues that a newspaper’s ability to set a price for advertising within its finite number of pages was nulled by Google who could set a tiny price in an infinite universe of web pages and search queries and that it’s now time to consider alternatives:

New advertisers – if Google could attract companies who never advertised before, why can’t newspapers?

New services – “a local media company should act as an agency for every local business, helping them get good search-engine optimization and making sure they appear on Google maps”

Networks – build an editorial and sales organization of organizations

Commerce – start selling merchandize (like the Telegraph does)

Enter new businesses – maybe go into real estate and own the sales data

Contribution – get more content for free

Some of this reminds us back to Russell Davies comments about the fact that we haven’t thought about the possibilities of connecting and socializing media like newspapers or books. Seth Godin has some thoughts on his blog about new business models too. He says that it’s difficult for traditional industries to embrace new models online because the transition isn’t structured in an orderly way”

The new business isn’t the same as the old business, just with computers. People look at PCWorld magazine and they say, “that will never work online.” And they’re right, it won’t, because the business is organized around print and monthly or weekly editions and display ads and a sales force and … “Our business will never work online.” And they’re right.

But Mashable works just great online. And so does Lifehacker. “But that’s a special case!”

Exactly. But the New Yorker was a special case too. There are plenty of topics that couldn’t support a magazine the way the magical mix of this magazine could. Real estate online is a special case. Classifieds. Coaching. Commerce. Directories. In fact, everything online is a special case, different rules, different economics, different expectations.


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