Does a newspaper’s web site actually add value when buying or selling? Like all horses in your stable it depends upon it’s capacity to plow new ground, to grow revenues and operating margins. Is your cyberspace product configured to contribute to the bottom line? To the extent that it does, a web site increases your company’s market value.
Initially newspaper publishers launched their internet sites with little experience and no proven profit strategy. Publishers viewed their web sites as “holding patterns” staking out territory that someday might prove valuable. With few notable exceptions early newspaper web site maintenance costs far exceeded revenues.
Paid cyberspace subscriptions were (and for most still are) a hard sell. One notable exception is the Wall Street Journal Online with nearly 700,000 subscribers. It’s the largest paid-subscription newspaper site on the internet. The WSJ’s niche product with its high demo readership is not an industry norm. Few publishers can replicate its success.
However, dailies of all sizes along with larger non-dailies and clusters are finding new money selling cyberspace classifieds in combination with their newsprint products. And new low maintenance technology makes convergence of print and online publishing economical.
Again, the classified darling is help-wanted. But can newspapers compete with the huge national help-wanted classified web sites like HotJobs, Monster and CareerBuilder? The answer is a resounding “yes!” Most classifieds have a local focus. The vast majority of help-wanted classifieds are placed by small employers appealing to job seekers with little interest in relocating. Further, local newspaper web sites typically receive substantially more hits than their local electronic competitors.
The web help-wanted classified niche is worth mining. It’s potential that will grow substantially as the baby boomers retire, creating unparalleled pressure for new hires. Adding to this pressure is the reality that half of our federal employees are eligible for retirement within the next two to three years. The competition for talent will generate handsome profits from help-wanted classifieds for enterprising newspaper publishers.
To the extent that a well managed newspaper web site is profitable it morphs into a valuable asset. It becomes a niche profit center like all others in the publisher’s product mix. This value-added niche product will increase the market value of your newspaper!