The economics of content

The fortunes of the media business are the fortunes of our future careers, says Robert Andrews, editor of paidContentUK.

The number of people buying newspapers has been on the decline for some time now and, as Andrews points out, every newspaper circulation is falling apart. Today’s news is no longer tomorrow’s chip paper, but instead is tomorrow’s old webpage.

According to Andrews, and almost every other guest lecturer at CJS to date, the belief is that all media will soon be digital media, and trainee journalists of the digital age are becoming increasingly aware of the importance and inevitability of online journalism.

Ever since the internet exploded onto our computer screens, online advertising has become more efficient than print advertising. This is particularly true for Google advertising, simply because the target audience are already looking for that particular kind of information. In addition, online ads are cheaper because of the infinite amount of space available on the web, unlike the limited amount available in newspapers.

While this may be good news for advertisers, how do media companies make financial gain from the internet? Although pay walls are a growing trend amongst publishers, surveys show that if sites did begin to charge for their content, 5% of people would use the free headlines, and 74% would simply find another free site.

The future, however, appears to lie in the tablet industry. It’s early days yet, but the success of the current Apple app store proves that people are willing to pay for content when it a) comes in little packages b) is easily downloadable and c) is sold at a cheap price. The appeal of devices such as the iPad (as the ‘i’ in iPad suggests) is personalization. Tablets offer the tactile experience and mobility of a newspaper, but can also be custom designed to the needs of each individual.

Interestingly, men currently prefer to pay for a long term relationship with publishers, whereas women prefer micro payments, where they either pay per article or per day. However, although there’s not a big inclination amongst readers nowadays to pay for online news, stats show that people are inclined to take up an online subscription if it includes a newspaper, proving that print isn’t dead quite yet.

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