Don’t just worry about not getting the young audience – worry about losing the prime audience

There’s four or five points of wisdom in this short post by Steve Duke, but in the interest of driving home a single point, I’ll pull just one quote:

The world is changing fast, as my cabbie demonstrated. While we worry about losing the tech-savvy young adult audience, we’re losing the tech-savvy middle-aged audience. Research by media consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates cited in Broadcasting & Cable shows that nearly half of people 35 to 54 turn to the Internet first for weather information and sports scores. This is no longer a young person’s medium.

I’m 45. I started thinking about this four years ago: I pretty much live my life online. I watch a lot less TV. I hardly ever read printed products — even fewer books these days. I’m about as digital as you can get. But I’ve always been kind of an early adopter. Going back a few years ago when I saw my life transforming in this way, I thought, “if I can figure out how great this digital life is, my cohorts who are otherwise busy with their non-digital careers and families (after all, I do this for a living) will eventually catch on, too. We’re really the ones who can afford all the toys — not the college kids and recent graduates. So what happens when the mass migration of this key newspaper demographic starts toward the web? What happens if we don’t have the right online offerings for them? Do we really want to risk losing them both as print subscribers and online users?

As Duke says, “wake up and smell the coffee.” And I would add, “it’s later than you think.”

(via Will Sullivan)

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3 thoughts on “Don’t just worry about not getting the young audience – worry about losing the prime audience

  1. This brings up a question that I’ve been curious about for some time. Does it make sense for the “print newspaper” to try to lure back someone such as yourself who lives life pretty much online, or would it better to make the best possible online operation for such people, and “the paper” should be as traditional as possible for the traditionalists? Of course, paper is the most expensive way to reach this shrinking audience, but I wonder if, after the paper has gotten rid of all the commodity news and the things “people can get anywhere,” someone will come along and make a nice living delivering traditional news to the low-tech, offline, basic cable (or no cable at all) traditionalists.

  2. Brian, I think you’re going to start seeing a trend (a trend that should have started a decade ago) of real differentiation between print and online, both because it helps retain print subscribers, and it recognizes that the online audience is different and consumes news differently. I’m hearing a lot more poeple in the online side of the news business talking about strategies for making this happen. A path is emerging.

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