One newspaper company executive recently calculated that one-quarter of his group's audience is coming through the Internet - but only 2 to 3 percent of the company's revenue was coming from on-line sources. How can we close that gap and better capitalize on the audience we are delivering to advertisers?
Here are 10 tips to drive on-line revenues.
1. Start with basics - classifieds. Classified ads are powerful on the Internet. Our statistics show that 20 to 50 percent (depending on the newspaper) of an on-line newspapers traffic is for consumers reading classifieds. The historic proven model is to post classified liners to the Internet and charge $1 or more for the extra circulation. This is the simplest, most reliable source of on-line revenue. This procedure also works as a defensive strategy that keeps others out of your classified business.
2. Post the classified liners from related publications. Many papers own shoppers or total market coverage publications that carry classifieds; yet these classifieds are not routinely posted to the Internet - and the paper misses out on the up-sell. My guess is that some larger groups are missing out as much as one million classifieds annually from alternative publications. That's $1 million lost!
3. Classified display ads are a prime source of revenue for many newspapers, but often they are not posted to the Internet. This a disservice both to the customer and to the newspaper's bottom line. I.N.N. / TownNews.com has technology that makes it easy to post classified display ads in with the classified liners in either a browsable gif format or a browsable and searchable jpeg format.
4. Business directories often are easy up-sells to the Internet. Many papers carry business directories in print that can easily be ported to the on-line newspaper. Businesses are usually quite willing to pay a couple of dollars a week or more to have their address, phone number and other related business card information posted on a prominently displayed on-line business directory.
5. Low-hanging fruit. There are over one billion web pages on the World Wide Web of the Internet. Some 1,000 web pages are being added to the Internet HOURLY. The best search engines can find only 16 percent of these web pages. That means 84 percent of the web pages in YOUR TRADE AREA are "lost in cyberspace." Businesses - banks, hospitals, Realtors, car dealers, retail stores, etc. - need to be promoted off the local on-line newspaper, which is almost always the most heavily visited Internet site in the trade area. All a paper has to do is call these customers, explain that the newspaper can greatly increase their Internet traffic, build a banner ad and link it to the customer's web page. Increase your print lineage by running a directory ad that lists the businesses in town with web sites.(See story, page 4)
6. Many newspapers are publishing, for a fee, estate sale/auctions. These are easily posted to the on-line newspaper - with a nice premium price. This also keeps auctioneers from looking for an alternative Internet solution.
7. Newspapers can use their on-line editions to promote print circulation. The most often used technique is a pop-up window that appears when a customer opens the newspaper's home page. The pop-up window offers a circulation special, most often two free weeks if the customer signs up for a subscription. This model has shown great success in boosting circulation revenues. (See story, page 2).
8. Special sections can often be ported to the Internet. These special sections - especially, answer books, Progress editions, summer and winter guides, lawn and garden guides, restaurant guides, etc. - make great long-term content on a newspaper's on-line edition. The ads should be sold for a 20 percent up-charge.
9. Run-of-the-paper display ads can be converted easily to gifs or jpegs and posted to the on-line newspaper. This is another 10 or 20 percent up-charge. The key here is to make sure the ads have proper display off the on-line newspaper - either a banner or badge ad, or a text link mixed in with the indexes for news, sports, features, etc.
10. Coupons make great print-online combo buys. Sell a half page of coupons in the print edition with an on-line component. Prime candidates to buy are restaurants ($2 off a 16-inch pizza), car repair shops ($2 off an oil change), hair stylists ($2 off an adult hair cut), casinos ($2 worth of free credits), department stores (free gift wrap), etc. etc. This builds both on-line and print revenue.
Use your imagination. Remember your on-line newspaper is the most visited Internet site in your trade area. You're delivering a big audience for your advertisers. Much of your audience is being reached via your on-line newspaper … so leverage that audience and go make more money!