Wednesday, June 15, 2005

MEDIA - Consumers change, channels change

It's clear to anyone that the future of information exchange is digital. What does that means to traditional media companies like newspapers, magazines and TV stations?

It means they must have aggressive digital channel strategies (Internet and mobile) or they will lose audiences to smaller more aware competitors.

The best example of this was the way Arabia.com, AlBawaba.com and PlanetArabia.com dominated the Arab news scene on the Internet five years ago. Al Jazeera was the top news source on satellite, but wasn't online. It seemed that Al Jazeera had forgotten the importance, and relative ease, of extending it brand credibility into another domain: the digital domain.

A few years after realizing this, Al Jazeera's site is now the top trafficked news site in the Arab World, as you would expect; inspite of not being spectacular. The design and user interface could be better. But they're probably working on that.

Now, they have to find ways to make money through this site, and other digital channels such as mobile phones; which explains why Al Jazeera Mobile launched last year with news and information alerts.

We, the consumers, are driving this shift as faster Internet connection become cheaper- home ADSL is now available in Jordan for as little as JD25 a month- and as young and Internet/mobile savvy consumers require content through digital channels.

For newspapers this new environment is an unparalleled challenge to the business model they've survived on for decades.

Local newspapers are now experiencing substantial growth in the number of unique visitors and registered users on their websites, and it seems there's a drop in copy sales among certain age groups.

Apparently, readers are shifting to the online edition. This means it is crucial for newspapers to find ways to generate revenue from their Internet edition.

So far, even in mature media markets like the USA and Europe, newspaper publishers have found it difficult to create considerable advertising sales on their website and even more difficult to sell content (access rights).

Regrettably, at the moment, the revenue is just not there. So, what are newspapers to do? On the one hand, they must pursue aggressive digital strategies for Internet and mobile content, to ensure they keep their readers, and on the other hand they're not making money through those digital channels. It's an unenviable situation.

AlGhad.jo, the website of a leading Jordanian daily, seems to have a 'registerd user' and 'paid premium benefits' strategy and is utilizing the site to sell subscriptions of the print edition. It's a start and these ideas are worth commending.

Simply, for us to get good news and content, we've got to contribute income to these news sources.

Think about that next time you visit your favourite newspaper or magazine site. Check out their paid services, maybe one of them is attractive enough for you to consider.

zeid@maktoob.com

2 Comments:

At 5:38 PM , Blogger issam said...

That is an excellent Post, Zeid. I am impressed with yout thorough analysis. However, I do not agree with you about Arabia.com. Many years ago, it used to be a leading source of information and news in the Arab World. Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore. Personally, I stopped visiting their site as aljazeera and albawaba do a better job of keeping me updated specifically regarding fresh news in the area.

 
At 1:04 PM , Blogger Zeid Nasser said...

Thanks Issam. I like your blog, and it seems you're quite a massive reader of books on various topics!
About Arabia.com, the company suspended its operations last summer, which is why it's got old news. In its heyday, it was the most trafficked news site... in my post, which is also a weekly column I publish in The Star newspaper (a Jordanian English language weekly), I was just referring to its past status.
Keep the comments coming, thanks again.

 

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