Google's Insider View On Why Newspapers Are Screwed

burntnewspapers

“The fact of the matter is that newspapers have never made much money from news,” wrote Google’s chief economist Hal Varian on the Google Public Policy blog. Varian was writing a summary of his presentation at the Federal Trade Commission’s hearings on the future of journalism in Washington, D.C.

Click here to flip through Google’s PowerPoint about the struggling news business >

His main messages: Newspapers need to experiment with new business models, publish online because it’s cheaper, and forget about paywalls unless they have specialised content that users really need.

Of course, some of these tactics are in Google’s favour, since shuffling more content from exclusive print editions helps feed Google News, search engine indexes and ad clicks.

His FTC presentation gave an overview of news sites challenges:

  • Less than 1% of time spent online is at newspaper websites.
  • Although 40% of internet users say they read news on the Web every day.
  • People spend about 70 seconds per day on online news sites, compared to 25 minutes spent reading a print publication.
  • Online news readers tend to read at work, where they need information quick and fast. They don’t have time to spend with more in-depth coverage like they do after work hours.
  • ComScore numbers say search engines send 35 to 40% of traffic to major U.S. news sites.

“In my view, the best thing that newspapers can do now is experiment, experiment, experiment,” he concludes.

Click here to flip through Google’s PowerPoint about the struggling news business >

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title=”TV continues to take more ads from print newspapers. Online ads are up but can’t come close to print revenue.”
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title=”The blue line represents newspaper advertising share. Watch it dip.”
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title=”Classified revenues go down, while online ads go up. But it’s still a fraction of the total.”
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title=”Circulation is in the stinker.”
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title=”More bad circulation news.”
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[slide
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title=”Households trade newspapers for TV and the Internet.”
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[slide
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title=”Boob tube and print news stay on a steady downward slope.”
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title=”26% of Americans check on the news by phone.”
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[slide
permalink=”online-views-of-newspaper-sites-are-only-3-of-total-news-page-views-14″
title=”Online views of newspaper sites are only 3% of total news page views!”
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[slide
permalink=”online-news-broken-down-by-demographics-younger-people-go-online-older-folks-cling-to-print-longer-15″
title=”Online news broken down by demographics. Younger people go online, older folks cling to print longer.”
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[slide
permalink=”consumers-spend-about-154-hours-with-newspapers-per-year-16″
title=”Consumers spend about 154 hours with newspapers per year.”
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[slide
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title=”49% of adult Internet users go to search engines to find information.”
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[slide
permalink=”turn-online-news-into-a-leisure-activity-since-nobody-has-time-to-read-anything-while-theyre-at-work-18″
title=”Turn online news into a leisure activity, since nobody has time to read anything while they’re at work.”
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title=”Search engines drive up to 40% of traffic to major U.S. news sites.”
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title=”News narrowly defined is hard to monetise.”
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[slide
permalink=”business-automotive-home-and-garden-travel-real-estate-and-technology-ads-are-making-newspapers-money-21″
title=”Business, automotive, home and garden, travel, real estate and technology ads are making newspapers money.”
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[slide
permalink=”general-merchandise-finance-and-home-furniture-ads-are-buying-up-more-ad-space-in-newspapers-22″
title=”General merchandise, finance and home furniture ads are buying up more ad space in newspapers.”
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[slide
permalink=”charge-for-news-only-if-you-have-exclusive-or-highly-differentiated-content-23″
title=”Charge for news? Only if you have exclusive or highly “differentiated” content.”
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title=”Total newspaper ad revenue is still 4 times as large as online ad revenue. Cable TV is getting more dollars.”
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[slide
permalink=”go-mobile-get-better-data-on-readers-make-more-videos-and-quality-content-25″
title=”Go mobile, get better data on readers, make more videos and quality content.”
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[slide
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title=”Resources!”
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[slide
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title=”More required reading.”
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[slide
permalink=”what-to-do-with-all-that-print-28″
title=”What to do with all that print…”
content=”Go on to see more reasons why you’ll miss newspapers when they’re gone—>
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