I’ve seen reports that range from 7 to 9 percent for online audience who went to a local newspaper Web site yesterday.
Here’s a challenge for news site managers: Tally up your local wired audience (chances are it’s 55 to 65 percent of your DMA adult population); now, look at the number of daily unique visitors for yesterday. Unless you’re running a major metro, I bet the number ain’t anywhere close to 9 percent, or even 7 percent. I bet it is a whole lot closer to 4 percent. And here’s the real depressing news: About half of your visitors yesterday were from outside your DMA, so your real local market reach on a daily basis is about two percent.
To me, this is one of the of the major issues online newspaper sites face: audience growth. Weak daily numbers mean weakness in the market. This means it’s easier for competitors like craigslist, the local TV stations and local start ups to gain traction.
Newspaper publishers need to get serious (read: invest dollars) about audience growth. They will do this through more original content (especially multimedia), more interactivity (community and user-content) and marketing — lots and lots of marketing (house ads alone won’t cut it).