Sunday, February 15, 2009

Newspapers should learn to push like Google

Google threatens newspapers because it intends to convince local advertisers to advertise on its platform rather than directly with the paper.

However, newspapers can learn from Google's strategy. Google is working hard to be a 360 degree company--no matter where you look, its there. What is your newspaper doing to be 360 degrees?

Google wants to reach you on every screen you interact with. As Jeff Jarvis puts it in his book
Most companies think centralized, and they have since the decline of the Sears catalog and the dawn of the mass market. Companies make us, the customers, come to them. They spend a fortune in marketing to attract us. We are expected to answer the siren call of advertising and trudge to their store, dealership, newsstand, or now, web site. They even think we want to come to them, that we are drawn to them, moths to the brand.
Does that sound like what you are thinking about your newspapers website? Driving traffic to the website is not enough. Jarvis reminds us that people who find specific content on your website after search, do not even remember your website's brand afterward. They just remember how they found it, i.e. Google. Yet we spend money on SEO, and in doing so we make Google search results even more valuable (which in turn makes Google Adwords even more attractive to your local advertisers.)

So like Google, newspapers need to push their content to their subscribers. But wait, we have a model for that already... it is called a print subscription. Is there a digital form? Yes, an email edition is one way. Content delivered via 3rd party widgets and applications, as well mobile applications is another.

The real test of any model for pushing content out to your audience is how well you can maintain and promote your brand in the process.

But remember that Google works hard to make the content it sends out to us as relevant as possible. That is because if you are sending info to my inbox or mobile device, it had better be damned useful, because that is my personal space. Newspapers have an even greater opportunity than Google, because contextual advertising will always fall short of local advertising.

However, I find many of the e-newsletters newspapers send out to be lacking. What attitude does your newspaper have with the emails it sends out? Is it "get as much out to them as possible"? Do you take comfort in having a CMS that automatically sends out emails without you having to do anything? Are you sending (shudder) AP articles to my inbox? Chances are that your automatically generated e-newsletter that isn't ugly and soulless.

My company is does email editions for newspaper clients, and some email technology companies provide self-service platforms that can be used for the same purpose.

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