What's the saying, 'another man's trash is another man's treasure'? Well, it might not exactly summarize the situation facing print newspapers and their web counterparts, but you get the point.
What has been a dismal year for print newspapers, has also been a year of promise for newspaper websites. A report released by Nielsen Online for the Newspaper Association of America shows that newspaper web sites attracted nearly 66.4 million unique visitors on average -- 40.2 percent of all Internet users -- in the second quarter of 2008, a 12.2 percent increase over the same period, a year ago. Source: Nielsen Online Custom Analysis In addition, newspaper web site visitors generated an average of just over three billion page views per month throughout the quarter, compared with nearly 2.7 billion during the same period last year.
And while these numbers don't necessarily translate into an increase in advertising revenue, which will be what keeps newspaper web sites afloat, it does indicate that "newspapers’ digital properties deliver highly-accurate and hyper-local content that consumers can’t find anywhere else”, or so says NAA President and CEO John F. Sturm.
With a growing audience, the NAA is hopeful that advertisers and revenue aren't far behind. NAA has created a new online destination for advertisers called www.newspapermedia.com, which provides advertisers with enhanced details on reader engagement, ad ideas, audience data and production specifications.
Mobile Web Sites May Help Newspapers
In related news, it seems that mobile web sites may also increase newspaper web site readership. That's of course provided that newspaper web sites have created mobile-friendly sites. But help has arrived: Verve Wireless, which already provides mobile editions of The Associated Press and the McClatchy Company papers, is offering the technology to do just that.
The hope is of course that local news content will be appealing to people, even if it isn't in print format. Yet Verve's chief executive, Art Howe cautions that just because mobile paper sites may be more functional, they "cannot be Internet lite." With more than 95 million mobile Internet subscribers in the US, and the number of people who access the Web from their phones doubling to 40 million since 2006, mobile news is poised provide a new audience -- and more readership.
While most news about the newspaper industry has been rather unpleasant, it's important to make the most of it. Surely the newspaper industry will not celebrate these little successes long, but it may provide a much-needed forward momentum.