What newspapers could learn from Google
October 16, 2008 by marek.miller
Google has taken the dominant position on the digital media market some time ago. It started competing with newspapers even more, after offering its participation in print ad sale. But there still is room for newspapers.
Session 4 of of WAN’s World Digital Publishing Conference: Digital Revenue Gold Mine in Amsterdam in October 15-16, 2008 was dedicated to things newspaper could learn from Google. An extremely interesting speech was given by Moritz Wuttke, CEO, Asia & China, Publicitas, China
In order to find out what newspapers can learn from Google, it is neccessary to understand the environment the print publishers exist in. Interactivity over the last 20 years has changed. The living room in an average household has changed – back 20 years noone would think people would uce personal computers in front of the TV. This is what Google noticed first.
Bad news for Google is that the dominance of search is over – now it’s social networking era, which opens new opportunities for newspapers. To prove how social networking has taken over the web, here are some examples:
- You Tube – 300 million users,
- Facebook – 120 million users,
- Skype – 309 million users.
Social media is changing the landscape. People not only upload the pictures but show themselves, debate and exchange ideas. In other words, they promote themselves. They are the brand, what means they do advertising. The amount of people who never met in real life, and the rise of blogs and social networks make people become a vital part of viral marketing. And viral marketing start to play an increasingly important role in strategies of many companies. Big corporations began to understand the value of that kind of marketing and spend high amounts of money on services like Pownce, Jaiku or Twitter (among many) trying to influence the popular bloggers. Mr Wuttke, despite not being eager to give the name of the specific company, spoke about a publisher who wanted to start a newspaper in China and dedicated 8% of his entire budget to microblogging, while 20% were dedicated to traditional marketing. This was the easiest way to find the readers opinion of the product.
Digital communication increases
United Kingdom and China internet users have been asked about the number of their contacts in both real and digital life. Whilst in the UK the numbers were equal, in China the number of digital contacts was almost 3 times bigger than the real friends. And most of them were contacts coming from instant messaging. A Chinese newspaper learned that lesson and partnered with a Chinese web portal QQ.com (which is also an instant messenger). Now, on fixed hours, 3 times a day, instant messages are sent to all the users in real time, providing them with links to the latest news on the newspaper’s webpage.
So, the problems newspapers are facing in digital world are as follows:
- Websites are not sold like newspapers but on audience and on reach.
- Most newspapers limit themselves on newspaper content and dismiss other options like search, community, video, blogs, etc.
- Newspaper people have problems selling online ads (using arguments like their website is not number 1 website, website has not enough reach or they simply do not know the language of online)
What newspapers should learn from Google is to change the ad-selling model. According to Mr. Wuttke, webpages like WSJ.com (“Wall Street Journal” online operation) or IHT.com (“International Herald Tribune” online operation) still required a direct contact (most likely via phone) with the salesperson, in order to place an ad. What Google does in the ad-selling area, is giving the advertiser possibility to place an ad in different ways, without the necessesity of contacting anybody via phone. But there still is place for newspapers and their websites – Google’s process is long, and time is still crucial to advertisers.
NYT for instance launched a web-based self-service advertising tool. This is the very basics every publisher should do. Publicitas in Switzerland also started a platform to place ads. Because of the fact people like to control their ads, the platform looks like a dashboard. It is supposed to be as easy as placing an ad in Google, but more efficient as Publicitas has information about almost 800 newspapers and their websites. A pretty similar idea was the cooperation of US newspapers known as Quadrant One.
Online should be seen as a sales channel with some very effective tools. Newspaper websites should be sold like other websites:
- in a bundle: newspaper channels (finance, sports, cars, etc.)
- on reach instead of circulation
- by geography, not only be brand, so even competitors are covered in “worst case”
Recommendation given by Moritz Wuttke to the newspaper publishers was to partner with at least one representative of the following categories:
The print and online should be integrated, and the creativity is necessary. In the conclusions to his speech, Mr. Wuttke suggested to:
- find good cooperatives, as social media is impacting the media, communication and advertising scene
- create new advertising products
- create sticky online and print products