A newspaper brand, as we know it, is created like a dinner in the Sizzler’s restaurants in the United States: Pay once and you get all you can eat.
Politics, culture, economy, and sports, some additional supplements and extra sections, enriched by the digital line extension – a huge range of editorial stuff, small pieces, big pieces, more or less hot, made for the day to fit the needs of a hungry audience.
Newspapers offer a lot for quite a little amount of money and put more and more pieces of content on the table, at least digitally. Why the hell has this audience decreased?
The fundamental mistake media companies can make is to just trust the strengths of their brands and the quality of their journalism in the news room. It’s worth a lot, no doubt about that. But it’s just one side of the coin.
To use the Sizzler comparison: For dinner, do you always go to a restaurant where you get food from all parts of the world at one place?
Some people do, of course. But most people avoid these general, average places, where Italian pizzas taste like Mexican enchiladas and German sausages smell like Spanish paella. They look for specialists – small restaurants where you get the best Italian pizza or the best Mexican enchilada in town, the best German sausages or the best paella from Spain.
In the digital age, it’s the same with the news media. As a reader you have the choice; you’re less dependent on your local newspaper for information on which beaches are recommended in Indonesia. Your specialist for Indonesia is just a few clicks away from you.
Media companies (just like the Sizzler restaurants) cannot deliver these deep insights. Even if they could, they’ll have to overcome their own brands as a general interest service provider. They need a totally new approach for the online world.
One is to segment traffic. Create editorial islands independent from the big brand of the newspaper, its own eco-system of verticals dedicated to deepen individual topics as no one else can do by knowledge and passion.
For example, this Web site reports and comments on anything concerning wearable computing-like smart watches. Not even one story of this vertical could become the main headline of a newspaper’s Web site, but on this vertical Web site, it does.
Can you imagine how strong the stickiness is between this vertical and its readers? They’re connected by passion or the desire to get more information than general interest media can deliver.
If a newspaper ran this vertical, it would bring a new audience to its portfolio. Not possible? The German tabloid Bild does exactly this with the fashion Web site Stylebook. You cannot see that the same editorial team creates Bild and Stylebook.
You can use these verticals for a lot of things where your brand’s Web site is limited (i.e. for content marketing and native advertising). These verticals, which use different domains, cannot damage the brand.
Because of the stickiness of the verticals’ readership the CPM is much higher. The costs to create specialised content are lower at the same time – specialists write more for passion and less for money.
The newspaper can benefit from these verticals and publish their content a second time. Some people love Sizzler.