The #1 Reason Why Local Newspapers Should Reconsider a Paywall

The future of web advertising for newspaper publishers depends on getting more traffic

Now I’m not here to say whether or not a giant publisher like The New York Times should have a paywall or not. If they end up losing revenue, they’ll take it down. If they make more money than before, they’ll keep it up. According to a prediction in one of my previous posts, they’re likely to make upwards of about 60 million dollars with their new structure.

No, this warning is for the little guys. The little local newspapers who don’t have the budget to build a million dollar paywall around their content.

According to IAB’s 2010 Internet Advertising report, businesses spent about $26 billion on web advertising, and only $22.8 billion in newspaper advertising.

TV is still at the top, but you can probably attribute half of that $28.6 billion to SuperBowl ads, right?

So here’s the thing. Advertisers will always want the most bang for their buck. This is why many newspaper publishers have started to offer print + web advertising packages.

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The problem with this, when you have a paywall,  you’re dramatically decreasing your website traffic, which makes selling online advertising a little harder. If they can only reach the same audience twice, in two different ways, it’s not a great sales pitch. If they can reach everyone that subscribes to the newspaper, plus thousands or millions of other non-subscribers, that’s a little juicier of a pitch.

Do you need a few ideas for getting advertisers to buy ads on your website?

Remember that advertisers get bored with “text links” and “banner ads” very quickly, so come up with new ways for them to increase leads by letting them become more active in your marketing. Let them sponsor contests, interview them for a sponsored article, so on and so forth.

If you’re looking to really build out your website, offer them the chance to sponsor sections of your website. Some sites like VidaySalud.com let advertisers sponsor whole topics, while others like AutoTrader.com let them sponsor online tools.

Still, some, like Computerworld.com offer their advertisers “Zones” where they can give away a free report in exchange for email leads that go directly to the advertiser. Read How to Sell Sponsorships on Your Website for more info.

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