Why Digital Newspapers are Getting It Wrong

Digital versions of every newspaper have launched since the wave of the tablet. Currently, there is less than a quarter of the US population that still reads printed newspapers, with the number declining each year, but more than half of the population read digital news.  As new and old readers switch from printed papers to online versions, newspaper companies - particularly smaller localized papers - are having difficulty retaining the same readership levels as before. But why are traditional news companies struggling? Is it the content that they are creating? The collaborative ads, etc? The subscription or pay structures?

Studies have suggested that the varied business models in digital news have become extremely segmented, where providers now attempt to gain readership using methods from free to premium content to high and low value.  One thing is certain - as Wikipedia and Facebook have taught us - creating a revenue stream for news, social interaction, or data is crucial to building your business, but can also interfere with the growth of it if not done at the right time and for the right reasons.

In the past few years we have teamed up with many digital versions of localized and widely disseminated new paper companies. Most times we focus on integrating sponsored content to build backlinks and expand the reach of the articles we write for our clients. The articles are primarily new educational pieces with a mix of varied calls-to-action or repurposed content. However, one thing has become noticeably clear over the past few years, which is that more and more digital newspapers are turning to interruption based marking tactics in order to gain readers (or subscriptions). 

What does this mean for sponsored content? Well take a look at the next image.

This image is fairly common to see. This is what readers are likely to see when they have already done the research to find the article and information that they are looking for, which seems to create a bit of a conundrum. Readers are now prompted to subscribe before reading (which seems to make sense) but are also prompted to fill out other ads not necessarily relevant to the content they are looking to read. Thus readers must take extra steps just to read the content, decreasing click-through-rates and lead generation for the articles written, not to mention readership. 

On the one hand, these digital papers are attempting to build their own readership, but at the sacrifice of reducing the service value to other customers. The solution? Instead of frustrating the customer by providing extra steps to get the content they desire, why not focus on taking an inbound marketing strategy - i.e. building a permission based marketing strategy to build leads.  By taking aninbound marketing strategy digital newspapers could still build the readership levels they desire by promoting their own leadership in the industry through various content offerings or even sponsored content offerings. Notice we said offerings, not content as in an article, but something that is relevant to the types of articles the reader is reading. By teaming up with other reputable companies that are using sponsored content channels, newspapers could even leverage their customers expertise to gain readership and promote the client at the same time.


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Bespoken Management started out with the simple mission of providing unparalleled marketing services to business lacking the time and knowledge to implement their own marketing effectively.

Today, we are a team with extensive experience in digital marketing, graphic design, front-end design, and website development. Our team, our client relationships, and our plans for the future are all built upon the values of transparency, efficiency, and creativity.

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