Strategies of growing both print and digital together

It is true that digital is growing. But it’s not at the expense of print media. Both the mediums need to go together side by side in the strategy of any newspaper publisher. Unlike the printed newspapers in India, which are still alive and moving steadily on the growth path, many print media houses in Europe and America faced the sluggishness in circulations and readership. That’s why many of them went for digital-only strategies, which at the end didn’t work as expected.

Let’s take the example of the British morning daily The Independent, which stopped printing in 2016 and transformed into fully online newspaper. What happened then? The time readers spent reading the newspaper dropped drastically when it went online only. When we observe some market studies on how people spent time reading newspapers, we do notice that the findings have value in highlighting the need of print and digital to work together, not to compete against each other.

For publishers who have a strong focus on their e-paper, this growth doesn’t come at the expense of print. Let’s look at another example, earlier this year, British weekly

The Spectator announced that their print sales had hit a 190 years high. They credited the achievement to their digital strategy. It means that visitors to the weekly’s digital edition could read two articles a week before being invited to subscribe for full access.

Further, the story is that vast majority of those who subscribed to The Spectator would pick the print and digital package for a three-month trial. Such subscribers, who may have assumed they would never have the habit of reading a print weekly, end up hooked, with most trial subscribers moving on to the full subscription. Finally, digital bundle is turned out to be an aid for driving new print subscribers, not a threat.

Likewise, a recent market study has revealed that print-oriented subscribers have digital reading behaviours as well. More than 30 percent of subscribers who described themselves as primarily readers of printed newspapers also access to digital editions of the respective newspapers. Doubtless to say that there is more room for data gathering from digital readers than from print readers. That’s why publishers can take advantage of digital data to boost print editions.

Canadian daily The Globe and Mail used the digital data strategy with their most recent print redesign. Using their online analytic data, they saw that opinion pieces were the most popular content so that they brought the section into the prime section on weekdays and extended it on weekends. The newspaper also noticed that readers have a preference for content from the newspaper’s staff, over freelancers, so that those stories now have a larger emphasis in the paper’s print layout.

At the WAN-IFRA India 2019 Conference this year at Gurugram, there will be some prolific sessions on business transformation models for both print and digital mediums. Be sure to grab your pass for the conference!

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