There are certain qualities of a local newspaper that online media simply can’t compete with. One thing that stands out to me is local news. A huge proportion of online media is focused on news on the large scale; World news, national news, state news, etc. But unless the story is pretty big, they aren’t going to be covering small town news, things that people who live there need to know.
That niche, though rather a large one, is what makes newspapers relevant even in today’s internet-driven world. Like most of you, I do read many of the online news sources daily or even have them push stories to my social media account so I don’t even have to go to their website. But once a week I still go out searching for the newspaper from my home town to see what my friends and former neighbors have been up to. I’m providing traffic, and I’ve noticed that the local paper I read isn’t taking advantage of that.
I won’t pretend that I go seek out a paper copy of ‘my’ local paper every week, I live too far to make that practical, I do go to their website. Up until recently, that provided me with essentially free access to the news I wanted to read, with irrelevant local ads as an attempt for them to make-up the revenue. They recently changed that to require you to be subscribed, even offering a web-only option, however I think the problem could be addressed even better.
The solution I’m thinking of is location-based ads. The technology is already there and in use by Google and Facebook, who base your location off of your IP address and tailor some ads specific to where you’re at. By marketing that technology to local papers, the papers can base ads, regardless of their location, on the reader’s location. This is obviously a sound business principle, as Google and Facebook seem to be doing quite well with their programs respectively, and depending on the rates, it could solve the income problem that the papers are facing.
Another option would be a banner exchange system. While they tend to simply rotate at random, I’ve been seeing some that seek out a specific client base. I’d imagine that could be tuned to include a location as well. Additionally, this can provide additional revenue for small businesses who are always seeking new and innovative marketing ideas.
By taking these ideas to heart, perhaps the local newspaper industry can overcome the problems they’ve been facing. Those of us that continue to read home town news would benefit by being able to stay on top of the news they provide, the papers would benefit from the increased revenue, and businesses far and wide would benefit from the new and unique marketing strategy.