Hot on the back of news that The Independent and its sister Sunday title are set to go digital-only in March, Trinity Mirror has announced that it’s set to launch ‘New Day’ – the UK’s first new national newspaper for 30 years.
In a nod to ‘time-poor’ readers who flirt between content, New Day promises to provide a ‘ruthless edit of the day’ in a bid to help arrest the long-term decline in national newspaper readership.
What’s behind these seismic changes in our national newspaper industry?
The back story is that newspaper advertising spend has fallen by a third in five years and social media is challenging and even dismantling papers’ digital strategies – to date based on erecting paywalls, building large global audiences for advertising or publishing sponsored editorial and video content.
Meanwhile, papers’ online advertising – under attack from adblockers and their sponsored content, or so-called ‘native advertising’ – has proven expensive to create and arguably failed to deliver the large audiences that major corporates and big-name FMCGs demand.
In response, the nationals are diversifying. Examples include The Sun, which is set to launch an online betting site, and The Guardian, which is growing a membership scheme with incentives such as events for members.
Experience dictates that website traffic alone won’t generate revenue for newspapers, although some commentators think that there’s an opportunity for papers to drive ecommerce – and perhaps even micropayments for single articles – to their audiences.
For years papers have been investing in websites, putting up paywalls and building Apps – but arguably the nationals are losing their digital relationship with their readers – with the likes of Facebook and Google pushing new types of media platforms to make news sites more accessible on mobile devices.
Some predict that the big tech giants will end up commissioning quality national news brands to run their articles – in the way that some cable television providers pay to broadcast popular channels.
This would prove a game-changing moment for newspaper brands – making them dependent on third parties to decide whether to publish their content – and share revenue.
What’s clear is that online readers act differently to traditional newspaper readers – they consume content through social media sites and flirt between a variety of different sources.
Perhaps the cliché ‘content is king’ really is true after all and the winners will be the newspaper brands which create the best content or who distribute it the most effectively – not those intent on publishing a mix of content and a bit of everything.