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SmartNews has shown it can drive traffic. Can it drive subscriptions too?
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Oct. 29, 2008, 3:05 p.m.

Monitoring Monitor reactions around the web

Other people’s thoughts on the Monitor’s moves:

— Design guru Mario Garcia likes the idea of shifting away from daily, but isn’t thrilled with the prototype of the new weekly. “Here is where I am somewhat disappointed…seems a bit primitive in terms of style, somewhat clunky in its use of page architecture, and not truly what one would expect from a product that is taking this huge leap into what is definitely the future. I was hoping for a an overall look and feel that was less 1965.”

— Forbes points out how slim the Monitor’s current online revenue is. Web advertising is expected to generate only $1.1 million this year, or nine percent of overall revenues. As much as futurists love to glorify shutting down the printing presses, that step would, at most American newspapers, immediately eliminate 90 percent of revenues.

— David Sullivan takes a historical perspective and remembers the Monitor’s glory days. “Had the Monitor been a for-profit business, or even a break-even business, it would have been closed years ago…The paper’s management had no clear idea how (or apparently any desire) to effectively compete in the print newspaper business in the 1980s; it is no wonder they have no wish to do so in 2009.”

— Joe Strupp points out the tradeoff: “[Editor John] Yemma estimates the first year will save about $4 million in costs, but likely lose $5 million in revenue.”

Two final thoughts. One of the reasons print is so hard to abandon is that the demographics of print newspapers are generally better (that is, more valuable to advertisers) than those of their web sites. Look at how the Monitor presents its average print reader to advertisers: mean income of $112,500, mean net worth over $1 million, 83 percent college grads. Then look at their online readers: $80,000 income, only 42 percent college grads, much lower net worth. Now, that second demographic isn’t a bad one, by any means — it’s also much younger. But millionaires are pretty attractive to advertisers.

And notice the single biggest gap between the Monitor’s online and print readers. Online readers are 65% men; print readers are 59% women. I wonder how the kind of content they produce might change if they try to respond to those numbers.

POSTED     Oct. 29, 2008, 3:05 p.m.
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