Hometown Media Takes on the Web

In major markets across the US, online newspapers are some of the most recognized and visited Web sites among local-oriented Internet destinations, according to research by NFO AD:IMPACT, a company of NFO Worldwide.

According to the data, which aggregated survey results from more than 10,000 online consumers in 17 major markets from January to June 2000, 66 percent of all online consumers were, on average, aware online newspaper Web sites. An average of 34 percent of online consumers were aware of local competitive city guide sites. Nearly half (48 percent) of online consumers had visited the local newspaper site, and more than 22 percent had visited in the past 30 days. In comparison, across the same markets, an average of only 16 percent of online consumers had ever visited the local city guide sites measured, and less than 5 percent visited in the past month.

NFO projected the total population from the 17 markets in the research, and estimated that 4.97 million online users had visited the newspaper sites in the previous 30 days, almost twice as many as the combined traffic of the local city guides assessed in those same markets.

In addition to driving strong traffic, NFO found that online newspapers also drive a higher volume of more valuable traffic for potential advertisers and their efforts to attract shoppers. As a result of visiting the newspaper Web sites in the research, nearly 1.4 million online consumers report contacting a business in the previous 30 days and more than half of those 750,000 made either online or offline purchases.

Each of the 17 markets in the NFO study had local competition from America Online’s Digital City service, Lycos Cityguide, and Ticketmaster/CitySearch. In addition, NFO also assessed the performance of online newspapers against Yahoo’s local city guide equivalent, YahooLocal, in seven major markets (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, and Washington D.C.). Across these seven markets, online newspapers had an average awareness of 74 percent among online users compared to 34 percent for YahooLocal; 56 percent of online users visited newspaper sites, on average, compared to 16 percent for YahooLocal; and 28 percent indicated visiting newspapers’ sites in the past month relative to YahooLocal’s 4 percent.

“It’s clear from these recent results that within the local space, major newspapers have done an excellent job leveraging their existing traditional brands to drive significant traffic online,” said Emil Morales, president of NFO AD:IMPACT. “The online newspapers are in a wonderful position to focus on building user traffic that is not only interested in gathering news and local market information, but it is also interested in shopping. That ultimately provides the most compelling value story for prospective online advertisers, and it’s clear that newspapers are making great strides in that direction.”

A survey by Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc., for WorldNow found that many US television stations have yet to commit the resources needed to build a profitable Internet business. According to the survey, television stations appear to be satisfied with matching expenses when doing business on the Internet, in contrast to newspapers who view the Net as a new market space, and an opportunity to generate additional revenues and profits.

The WorldNow data was compiled from surveying 63 Web site managers and was culled from 244 sites. Research respondents included 38 TV station sites, 19 newspaper sites, and six city sites. City sites attracted 12 times more page views than TV stations, and generate 10 times more average revenue, according to the survey. Newspaper Web sites, compared to TV station sites receive six times the monthly number of page views and earn between four to eight times the revenue.

“This data shows us that television stations are not sufficiently capitalizing on the Internet revolution,” said Gary Gannaway, WorldNow CEO. “TV stations must realize that they are no longer viewed as simply a station, but in fact can be the number one provider of local information in many markets on many platforms. There is tremendous potential on the Web for stations to raise their brand profile, awareness, revenues and help drive ratings — unfortunately many of them are missing the boat.”

Other findings from the WorldNow study include:

  • Average newspaper Web sites, among those surveyed, have 3.96 million monthly page views, in contrast to TV stations who have 606,000.
  • Newspaper sites on average have 5.68 full-time content employees; TV stations have only 1.32. Newspaper sites on average have 3.71 full-time sales employees and TV stations have 1.34.
  • The number of newspaper site advertisers averages 81.44, while for TV stations, the number of advertisers averages 22.34.
  • Retailers are the No. 1 source of revenue for newspapers, accounting for almost 30.25 percent of the total number of companies advertising on newspaper Web sites, followed by auto dealers at 8.91 percent. The primary source of advertising dollars for TV station Web sites is auto dealers with 8.38 percent, followed by retailers with 5.45 percent, and Internet companies with 5.39 percent.
  • In 1999, TV station Web sites made 14 percent of their revenue through content sponsorship; in 2000, this percentage is expected to increase to 32 percent.
  • On the other hand, banner ads and coupons are expected to decrease from 56 percent and 9 percent in 1999 to 36 percent and 2 percent in 2000.
  • Both TV stations and newspapers expect a dramatic increase in national advertising, which was virtually non-existent in 1999, and accounted for 7 to 8 percent in 2000.

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