The Future of Print

Can Newspapers Create New Revenue Stream with ‘Digital Malls’?

Posted in Boom by futureofprint on August 19, 2010

Newspaper consultant Jim Chisholm has looked five years into the future and sees the industry’s best bet for vitality in digital shopping. Updating a futures report he did 18 months ago for the Newspaper Association of America, Chisholm predicts nominal growth for the industry 3.4 percent, probably less than inflation through 2014 in its current lines of business. That is a bleak forecast — unless an infusion of new revenue comes to the rescue.

Chisholm’s concept is “a digital news hub,” combining traditional and nontraditional content, that would be the equivalent of a flagship store that draws people to a bricks-and-mortar mall. The key would be getting them to stay on newspaper websites much longer than most do now.

hoppers would be lured by a critical mass of discounts and links to local stores and national retail sites. The newspaper mall sites eventually would get into direct transactions, taking a small cut of the proceeds. For all this to work, Chisholm concedes, the typical newspaper website would need a higher level of functional technology for mobile, for instance.

The idea has more potential if the industry can unite on common platforms or sales initiatives. However, newspapers often have a hard time working together in business ventures, even as they try to stave off their new digital competitors. My own take is that newspapers are edging toward this model, first cousin to the Newspaper Next concept of reorganizing as a local information utility. Local shopping looks like a hot prospect. As an example, newspaper organizations are rushing to partner with Groupon, Shoutback and other deal-of-the-day vendors.

via Poynter Online – The Biz Blog.

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