Rick Edmonds

Researcher and writer for Poynter Institute on business and journalism issues. Co author, State of the News Media 2006. ExSP Times and Phil Inquirer


Young woman in office working on desktop

Time to ditch uniques and page views for engagement in measuring digital audiences

When Nieman Lab’s Josh Benton asked me in December for a New Year’s prediction, I leaned toward the bombastic and led my wish list for 2014 as follows:

Ditch uniques and develop a better metric. Then-Newspaper Association of America president Mark Contreras was right when he made this case four years ago. It still hasn’t happened. One- or two-time visitors are not a business opportunity — they are an accident.

So we are two-and-a-half months into the year, and I am sorry to report that uniques and its evil twin, page views, are still with us — offered as the basic yardstick for digital audience for both individual sites and whole industries.

But I took cheer last week when three separate sources made the case that attention and engagement matter more.… Read more

Tools:
1 Comment
A USA Today newspaper box is shown in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

USA Today’s two-year strategic overhaul gains traction

(This case study, the fourth in an occasional series, was underwritten by a grant from the Stibo Foundation.)

USA Today has probably changed more in the last two years than in its previous 30.

Always a circulation-driven enterprise, the paper now has a radically different audience strategy, substituting mobile app traffic for the rapidly falling readership of its legacy print edition and folding a new condensed USA Today section into the largest 35 of Gannett’s 81 community newspapers.

Publisher Larry Kramer and his hand-picked editor, David Callaway, brought several decades of digital experience to the formidable task of finally breaking away from a print-first culture in the USA Today newsroom.

That these things happened has been reported by the company in recent presentations to investors, in two stories by the Wrap’s Sharon Waxman and in a nice summary piece this week by David Cay Johnston at CJR.com.… Read more

Tools:
0 Comments
Marc Andreessen (AP photo)

What Marc Andreessen got right and got wrong in his future of news manifesto

When the history of journalism’s turnaround is written some years hence, I think 2013 and 2014 will go down as years when Internet billionaires, the new Carnegies and Rockefellers, stepped into the fray in a big way — Jeff Bezos, Pierre Omidyar (and let’s not forget more traditional rich guys John Henry and Warren Buffett).

Now comes Marc Andreessen, Netscape founder and venture capitalist, with a take on the future of the business that is wildly optimistic, dare we say, irrationally exuberant.

His essay last week on where news is headed, well summarized in a Wired piece and readable itself, projects exponential growth in market demand. Andreessen sees solid Internet businesses with strong financial backing coming into their own even as legacy platforms continue to falter.… Read more

Tools:
8 Comments
newspaperreader_depositphotos

NAA: ‘Print only’ still more than half of newspaper audience even as digital grows

A new analysis of the most recent newspaper audience reports suggests a surprising split in reading habits. Digital audience continues to grow. Mobile audience is growing quickly. Mobile-only audience, though much smaller, has grown to 7 million.

Yet more than half of newspaper audience — 54 percent as measured by Scarborough research in 150 large markets — still read their local paper’s news report only in print.

There is an important qualifier to that finding. The 54 percent may consume a substantial amount of national news on various digital platforms, but even with the growth of print + digital access subscriptions, they do not visit their hometown paper’s website.

John Murray, the Newspaper Association of America’s vice president of audience development, generated a number of other headline findings in his analysis published on the NAA site (members-only) earlier this month:

  • Total daily circulation was up 3 percent year-to-year and Sunday circulation 1.6 percent among 541 daily papers reporting results to the Association of Audited Media (AAM) for the six-month periods ending Sept.
Read more
Tools:
4 Comments
A depressed teenager walking towards the light

Deseret News, Atlantic find common ground for collaborative series on fathers

Content partnerships have been quite the vogue lately, and this morning The Atlantic and the Deseret News add a new chapter — a jointly produced four-part series on absent fathers and broken families, running on the sites of both publications.

At a glance this would appear a long-distance odd couple — the church-owned newspaper in Salt Lake City and the venerable Boston-bred monthly, now based in Washington. But there is an affinity — each is recognized as a leader in digital business model transformation. New approaches to content are part of the innovation formula.

“Collaboration will be a fruitful model going forward,” Deseret editor Paul Edwards said in a phone interview Friday. “Editorial specialization is a logical response to the nature of the Web. So there needs to be trading to acquire content and share expertise.”… Read more

Tools:
2 Comments
Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

As The New York Times debuts its template for native ads, will other newspapers follow?

When The New York Times offered the first native ad on its website Jan. 8, reviews were mixed. Some thought the Times offered too much of a good thing with a half-dozen disclaimers that the story-like piece was advertising. Others opined that despite all the labels, the Times was stepping down the road to perdition hosting paid content from computer giant Dell.

I’d say each side has a point, but the bigger question is whether the Times way, like its approach to a digital paywall three years ago, will set the pattern for the newspaper industry’s belated foray into the hot native format.

In a brief phone interview, Caroline Little, president of the Newspaper Association of America, agreed with my assessment that newspaper organizations are eagerly exploring the possibilities but have barely started yet with native ads and other forms of sponsored content.… Read more

Tools:
3 Comments
In this July 14, 2010 file photo, the sign for Gannett headquarters is displayed in McLean, Va. Gannett said Thursday, June 13, 2013, it reached a deal to buy TV station owner Belo for about $1.5 billion in cash, significantly boosting its presence in broadcasting. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, file)

Gannett earnings report hints at a coming problem with paywalls

By virtue of tough expense control and the acquisition of Belo Corp. TV stations, Gannett reported decent fourth quarter and full-year financial results yesterday. Its share price was off .06 percent for the day.

But the report included some dicey details for the company’s newspaper operations, suggesting challenges ahead for Gannett and the industry in 2014.

Circulation revenues were up for the year (1.1 percent) but down for the fourth quarter (-1.6 percent) compared to the same period in 2012. CEO Gracia Martore explained in a conference call to analysts that the company has now “cycled through” the lucrative introduction of paywalls together with bundled print + digital subscriptions at its 80 community newspapers.

This raises the concern that capturing revenue from new digital subscribers and pairing “all access” print/digital bundles with a big price increase could be a one-time revenue event.… Read more

Tools:
1 Comment
Magazines, including a Rolling Stone issue featuring president-elect Barack Obama, are displayed at a newsstand Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Magazine industry ad decline slowing, but 4th quarter not good

The final tally came in this week for print magazine advertising in 2013. It is the typical good news/bad news scenario.

Ad pages — the industry’s traditional measure — were down 4.1 percent for the year. That could be read as a step forward from 2012 when the decline was 8.2 percent.

Quarterly year-to-year comparisons had improved through the year, with the third quarter off just 1.8 percent compared to a year earlier, the best performance in two years. But the fourth quarter headed back the wrong way, off 4.8 percent, indicating marketing budget cuts at year’s end and perhaps a below par holiday season.

The weak fourth quarter at magazines suggests that newspaper ad results for the period, which will be reported by public companies in February and for the industry in March will probably soften too.… Read more

Tools:
0 Comments
Finance and markets headline

For newspaper stocks, 2013 was a surprisingly good year

Despite yet another year of falling revenues, publicly traded newspaper companies saw their share prices rise sharply during 2013.

Yes, the overall market was strong — with the S&P index up 29.5 percent and the Dow Jones up 26.5 percent.

Yes, as I and others have noted, local broadcasting is thriving with two of the next three years bringing political and Olympics advertising bonanzas and retransmission fees a continuing windfall. Gannett, E.W. Scripps and Journal Communications all benefited from their TV holdings.… Read more

Tools:
6 Comments

Stock table

Company         2012 Close    2013 close    Percent change

Gannett                $18.01           $29.59          64.4%

E.W. Scripps          10.81              21.70         100.7

New York Times       8.53              15.87           86.0

A.H. Belo                   4.65               7.43             59.8

Journal                      5.41                9.30            71.9

McClatchy                  3.27                3.39             3.7

Lee                             1.14                3.48           205.3

Source: Yahoo financeRead more

Tools:
0 Comments