Monetizing Newspaper Content Requires a Shift in Perspective

by Navneet Taori - Date: 2008-07-21 - Word Count: 972 Share This!


Take it Online to Increase Revenue

Print isn't dead, but it's wheezing, and no one knows that better than you, the publisher. Ad revenues are dropping, circulation is declining and even major newspaper companies like McClatchy are facing massive lay-offs. You have to find new ways to monetize content if your publication is going to continue thriving.

And the thing is, it may be easier than you realize because you don't have to radically upgrade technology or completely rearrange editorial operations to monetize the publication. You just have to change the way you think about publishing.

Look at it like this: If you made movies, would you offer them only in theaters, and not on DVD and cable? No, of course not. You'd frustrate your audiences, cheat your company out of revenue, and eventually be out of business.

But when you prioritize your printed publication - be it a newspaper, magazine, journal, or catalog - as your main product and give only passing attention to online content, treating it like nothing more than a neglected extra, you're doing the same thing.

Successful publishers recognize that online newspaper articles and newspaper archives, and other types of content, are an integral, if not primary, part of their product line. They monetize content by tapping new channels of digital publishing and broadening their online advertising.

The online audience for your print publication

Readers are migrating online in big numbers.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project found in 2006 that 70 percent of Americans are internet users. Globally, the Miniwatts Marketing Group, which runs, estimates the number at 1.4 billion, or about 21 percent of the world population.

Those users go online an average of 33 times per month, by Nielsen Online's latest figures, and visit 1,450 web pages, spending an average of 48 seconds looking at each page.

And when it comes to news specifically, the Internet has now surpassed both newspapers and television as Americans' primary source, according to figures from at least one survey cited in "The State of the News Media 2008," a report from the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Want to understand why? Jennifer Maderazo at MediaShift does a great job of explaining how she naturally began to drift from print media to digital just a matter of lifestyle and convenience.

Some publishers view this digital migration as lost readership and blame the Internet for declining circulation, but that's a serious mistake. Readers aren't changing content, only delivery.

You're losing out if you aren't trying to capture some of that audience and monetize your content online.

Migrating online increases the potential to monetize

So, how do you reach internet users and find new ways to increase revenue at the same time? Consider these options:

Online editions - Readers love your publication. They like the way it looks and the way it feels, but some of them want it delivered in a more convenient way. They want to be able to read it onscreen in its original format, or have it customized and funneled to them through RSS feeds, or maybe they just want to listen to a podcast of it, instead.

And if they don't already, at some point they likely will want to get your newspaper or magazine sent straight to their mobile devices. The Pew researchers report that 62 percent of those polled in a recent survey had used their cell phones to go online or for another non-voice application.

Electronic editions contain the same layout and content as your print publication, but delivered in rich media formats suitable for a variety of platforms, including blogs and social networks. At the same time, online editions open up new subscription options by allowing you to charge a fee for this digital delivery service.

Online advertising - The Project for Excellence in Journalism found that online ad revenue, while slowing, is still seeing double-digit growth, with total annual revenue topping $15 billion. News and current event sites take in about $776 million of that.

While that seems to indicate that many print publications are failing to properly monetize content online, it also means there is an opportunity for publishers to step in and pick up a piece of that market.

Continue to use online advertisements as a value add for print advertisers, but also sell it as a separate, powerful product. Space is limitless online and delivery options much more rich, ranging from simple text ads to high-quality video. And because you can track the habits of your site visitors, you're able to more narrowly target ads to match their interests.

Newspaper archives online - Your publication likely has years of content stored in hard copy or on microfilm. Migrate those archives online, and you can monetize content there, as well.

Researchers, genealogists, and news databases such as LexisNexis all are willing to pay a premium for newspaper archives online because that content still has tremendous use to them. It often cannot be found anywhere else, and that scarcity increases its value.

You can charge for access to archived content and historical newspapers online - fees range from $1.95 to $3.95 (USA Today) per article - or offer the archives for free and sell online advertising to be delivered alongside the content. The idea of simultaneously producing both print and electronic editions may sound daunting, but it isn't. In fact, it can be fairly simple if you use one of a handful of companies that offer software and near-turnkey solutions for digital delivery.


At this point, there's no reason that every publication should not offer rich online content that is at least the equal of the print product.

Newspapers and other print publications are at a critical stage - as discussed among publishers recently in Chicago - where leaders have to make a choice to embrace online delivery and content monetization and go on to a bright future, or keep offering the same old print editions until they just fade away.

Related Tags: epublishing, digital publishing, newspaper publishing, digital archives

Navneet Taori works for Pressmart Media Limited, a digital publishing and New Media Delivery company for newspapers and magazines worldwide, as the Head of Business Development. Pressmart is industry's most advanced solution for publishing electronic edition of Journals, newspapers, and magazine or any other publication on multiple distribution channels like Web, Mobile, RSS, Podcast, Blogs and Social Media Sites. For more information and insights on emerging trends in New Media Publishing, please visit or write to us at

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