Sunday, February 22, 2009

Newspapers compete online. Examples from Gannett, Advance Publications, and Packet Publications

Local newspapers that have enjoyed operating in noncompetitive markets for many years are increasingly competing directly with each other online.

This is in addition to the new competition with publishers and aggregators of local content, such as Craig's List. I refer specifically to direct competition between newspapers for online traffic.

The culprit is the one-to-many model for establishing local content sites, where one site for a broader geographical region is established, with newspapers sub-sites in that region associated with the broader website.

The newspaper may be unrivaled on its own turf. However, often there is crossover between the regions the broad websites cover. As a result, the broader content websites compete for traffic and regional online advertising.

New Jersey, for example is seeing heated online competition between the following Groups:

According to, has much higher overall traffic than the other sites. However, traffic alone does not tell you much. Packet Publications' 14 papers all focus on the Princeton area, and its print rivals in the area have no significant web presence. Advance and Gannett do not have any competing print publications in Princeton, but Advance's does have a "local news" section for Mercer County, where Princeton Township is located. The advertiser's choice depends very much on desired audience, regional coverage, and combination of online and offline advertising.

There are deeper advertising questions to be answered:
  • How well is the combination of print and online reaching the target audience in the target region?
  • Who is reading the paper first and the website second (or not at all)? Who is reading the website first and the paper second (or not at all)? How do these groups break down in demographics and in online user behavior?
  • Print goes out daily, but how often do visitors to the website return to the website?
  • How are online traffic number related to circulation numbers?
  • What kind print/web packages are available to advertisers? (Print advertising is pretty much standard, but web advertising comes in various forms.)

1 comment:

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