Winning the readers with news and losing them with advertising

Two surveys:

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, we rely on local newspapers for information about our community. Nearly three quarters (72%) of adults are quite attached to following local news and information, and local newspapers are by far the source they rely on for much of the local information they need.

Excellent. I love it.

Here’s the but: According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey, we don’t have a lot of trust in the advertising that supports the news. …While 92% of consumers say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations, less than half trust paid ads in traditional media outlets. The trust in these ads has declined by more than 20% since 2009.

Where does that leave us? Same place we’ve been for a while. Except worse. Even as the public’s confidence in newspapers (and TV) is in the 20% to 30% range, advertisers, by and large, have stayed with them through the past five years of unpleasantness. That’s even though the amount of time people spend with print has plunged. So, if people’s trust in paid ads are now declining? Gulp.

There are possibilities. Alan Mutter recently outlined four. The first step to getting serious about digital publishing is to develop a strategic commitment to building relevant and remunerative products. Because most profit-pinched newspapers lack the time, money and in-house talent to develop such products, it makes sense for the industry to pool its resources to create a Digital Widget Works to build products to compete with the upstarts.

The time to act is now. The contest will only get more intense, with Groupon, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and a host of wannabes feasting on fresh capital faster than you can spell IPO.

Ken Doctor also has a bunch of ideas: What kinds of skills, knowledge and abilities do you have in your company, assets that can be used newly and differently? What kind of job needs to be one by someone who has the budget and has no go-to supplier…yet?

And there is the Nieman Lab.

Here’s the present and the future: Ask the students in my mass communication class where they get their news and they say Facebook, Twitter and “people I know.”

2 thoughts on “Winning the readers with news and losing them with advertising

  1. I’d be careful about generalizing too much from this. Pair great local content with great local ads (we’re not talking national companies here — but locally owned shops) and you have a high trust factor. I’m sure of it.

    Pew needs to stop taking 50K feet look at things and generalizing down the local level.

  2. I’ve been waiting for at least 3 years for the kinds of jobs Alan Mutter describes to materialize at newspapers so I could apply for them. Still don’t see it happening. I have no idea what it’s going to take, do you?

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