You reported on the doubling of broadband take-up (MW September 22) just a week after discussing News Corporation’s online development. In the latter, you assert that “few old media practitioners have managed to migrate successfully onto the Web…” This is wide of the mark. Over the past few years, media owners have been working quietly to achieve precisely that migration. The evidence for their achievements so far is, however, subtle to discern. And the reason for this change not being highly public is because it concerns the delivery of targeted content to special interest groups within a newspaper’s readership.
Newspapers have also been hard at work to allow these groups of people with common interests to interact with one another. Anyone who underestimates the power of a newspaper’s brand is misguided. The affinity that readers feel with “their” newspaper is exceptionally strong. People often define themselves in terms of the newspaper they read. Certainly, they usually feel that fellow readers are likely to be like-minded, and people that they would most likely want to interact with.
Creating these communities under a newspaper’s brand umbrella invokes a virtuous circle. Readers get more of what they are interested in, from a content-creating organisation whose output and style they enjoy. Newspapers replace mass advertising revenue with niche advertising revenue, plus a host of premium service micro-payments from the readers themselves. And advertisers achieve highly targeted media reach, eliminating the wastage of mass advertising.
So let’s not scoff at newspaper brands building online relationships with their customers. Much of the groundwork has already been set in place.