Why You Need to Increase your Online Reach

February 1, 2007

“According to a special release from The Media Audit, newspapers are increasing their market penetration beyond 60, 70 and even 80 percent with the help of their websites. Ten daily newspapers have achieved a net reach of more than 80 percent.(…) Bob Jordan, president of International Demographics, says “To improve the net, newspaper(s) are making impressive gains in attracting viewers to (their websites.) As recently as 2003 just 30 daily newspapers had attracted more than 20 percent of adults in their immediate market to their websites. Our current numbers show 49 dailies have attracted more than 25 percent of adults and 30 dailies have attracted 30 percent or more.” (via the MediaPost blog)

At the same time, as reported in Mediapost, Nicholas Ascheim, the New York Times’ director of entertainment, video and audio products declared that “the Times’ top priority at the moment is not money, but cultivating readers. “The strategy is to build an audience.”. “I think we’re only 5% down the road,” said Ascheim, speaking generally about the growth potential of “content and the audience around it.” He was speaking at the Software & Information Industry Association’s Information Industry Summit in New York. In addition, Times readers will get the opportunity to contribute their own content to NYTimes.com in the very near future, said Ascheim, noting the benefit of user-generated media to the bottom line. “Using consumer content is interesting, because it allows you to increase content without cost,” he said.”

What it means: I think I’ve told the same story to all my media customers in the last few months. From a strategic point of view, if you want to insure the long term perpetuation (or perennity) of your media business, your online reach will eventually have to be as high as your current offline reach. Even though monetization online is currently not equivalent today as offline (see “Is Google the Only Company Properly Monetizing its Online Traffic?“), I believe a pair of eyeballs is a pair of eyeballs. You have to build traffic all the time to increase your online reach (one of my Local 2.0 prediction for 2007). The New York Times, even though they have a great “hypernational” brand (see this post) understands this. It’s certainly why they bought the About.com Network two years ago.

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