The challenge for content providers in the digital age

There are many doom merchants around who say that the newspaper as we know it will be dead within ten years, or perhaps even sooner.  The thesis goes that consumers will get so familiar with accessing content for free that they will refuse to pay for content provision.  This then leads to the question of how newspapers will make money and pay for the costs of proving journalistic expertise.

The challenge for newspapers going forward will be how to transform digital newspapers into one-stop service providers.  Of course, traditional print newspapers have always been effectively one-stop service providers in that they have been suppliers of the weather, the court circular, local sports coverage, television listings, lottery numbers etc.  The objective then would be to give their readers a reason to subscribe and to stay within their walls for lots of their needs. Perhaps they can add e-commerce facilities such as buy and sell portals.

Digital content providers have been using companies such as Narrative Science to produce computer-written summaries of stock market trends several times a day (and typically highlight 10 stocks hitting 52-week highs, 10 stocks seeing unusually high volume, sector reports and earnings previews/wrap-ups). These stories can generate substantial traffic/reader interest for a fraction of what it costs to have an in-house writer doing the same thing full-time.

The same principle applies to any content provider in the digital age.  Can your website hold the visitor within the confines of the site or is the bounce-rate such that viewers immediately click away having landed on your site.  Does your site have dynamic content and news items relevant to the search terms? Is there sufficient news to keep the visitor interested?  Is it regularly updated?  Are there sufficient internal links? The successful newspapers will have a digital platform that offers a one stop service and the best brains in their companies will see that mission as their attempt to survive in the industry. Other content providers might survive on the provision of niche content.


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