Karen Andreas of the Salem Evening News recently gave a talk to the board of directors at the North Shore Chamber of Commerce on the changes taking place in the world of newspapers. She had some interesting things to say about how they are adapting to the intense changes brought about by the web and user generated content. They realize that their website has to play a much stronger role in their overall business model. Some newspaper sites give all free content and get a traffic boost from that model while others are starting to charge for content. Both models can work if the content has true value and newspapers are often a credible sources of news. The Salem Evening News has made a solid new site and won some awards for it recently. I am glad to see they are making changes and hope they can make an even more robust web version of the local news.
Forrester research indicates that display ads may be a good deal in some cases such as with faltering newspaper sites. Given the local traffic you might generate from a banner ad, at least consider giving it a second look. Just make sure to track it in Google Analytics (or similar), to see how many referrers you get and also if users coming from the site stay a long time and or buy from you. Even a few good leads that engage with you and place orders of some kind may be worth the small investment. Also compare it to your organic and paid search in terms of cost per click, time of user on the site, amount of pages visited, conversions etc. I emailed Karen to get the banner ad rates as I found them hard to find on the site and I will post them here soon.
Some of their more modern content:
There are several sites tracking the radical changes in the TV/Radio/Print world and a few are below so you can make some of your own assessments. I am personally hoping for the papers and media outlets to adapt to the changes with Deeper web models, rather than trying to hang onto the past. The ones that do that well will be the ones who survive. However, their cost to operate must change immediately in order to be profitable, given the low cost of entry for Bloggers and web only outlets.
Sites tracking the newspaper seismic shift:
Below is a compete.com chart comparing a few local sites in terms of the amount of visitors:
What would you like to see happen with your local papers?