Newspaper websites reached about 36% of all Internet visitors in June 2009, the Newspaper Association of America announced this morning, citing custom analysis made by Nielsen Online.
In addition, newspaper sites generated 3.5 billion pageviews during the period and visitors showed some loyalty to these sites, returning an average of 8 times during the month. (chart below)
Those are pretty impressive numbers, but they unfortunately (for newspapers) don’t solve the industry’s problems. Here is why:
As long as newspapers continue to print daily papers and maintain large newsrooms profits will continue to suffer, even as their digital operations grow. Yes, newspapers face increased competition from a myriad of online news sources, but the larger issues facing the industry are that heavy print, union, and newsroom costs make it difficult to generate profits as print advertising declines and digital fails to make up the difference (see below). Even after cutting a lot of muscle the past year only a few newspapers were barely able to turn a profit the last quarter.
Blogs and aggregators will continue to eat away at newspapers’ online audience, especially as new ones launch every day. It takes about a day to set up a blog (some estimate over 100,000 are launched every day). As more news blogs are introduced it will be harder and harder for online newspapers to grow their audience. In particular, as newspapers inevitably layoff more journalists, this talent may create their own blogs (like former FT journalist Tom Foremski), directly competing against newspapers with quality reporting. Finally, blogs and aggregators have shown that they play the search game better than newspapers (which drives more traffic) and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. We should note though that aggregators can often send a lot of traffic to newspaper sites since most only display an excerpt from the articles, with links back to newspapers (most newspapers disagree with this).
Ad dollars are moving from newspapers to digital media, but not all of it is going to newspapers’ websites. Its great that newspapers are realising the potential they have to build an audience online. The problem is as audience grows, ad dollars likely will not follow accordingly. Portals, social media sites, and online giants like Google and Yahoo are finding increasingly compelling ways to get advertisers to spend with them, and are using technology to make it easier and more efficient for advertisiers to spend online with reporting metrics that are constantly improving.
It seems all signs continue to point to death by a thousand cuts.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.