Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Annus horribilis?

As the newspaper industry is suffering its 'Detroit' period, a recent report highlights the difference between soaring demand, and being able to build a proper business from the demand.

Nielsen recently published a study detailing the traffic results for the top 10 newspapers in the US. Year to year traffic was up 16%, to over 40mm unique visitors. The embattled NY Times is nearly 70% larger than its nearest competitor, USA Today, with an industry leading 18.1mm uniques. Fastest growing is the NY Daily News, which nearly doubled its uniques to 5.9mm.

Nine of the top ten newspaper sites experienced positive online growth. The frequency of visits jumped too, with the total number of visits growing 27% to over 252mm.

Traffic and frequency of visit are usually leading indicators for site prosperity. In this industry, where the value of an online viewer (free) is a small fraction of the worth of a 'brick n mortar' customer (paid) it seems like a Herculean mission to properly allocate scarce resources between the two competing efforts.

However painful it is, strategic focus is a necessity to properly deploy now scarce resources.

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