An ongoing issue for newspapers is how to generate revenues for online content.
In the past, newspapers printed and delivered a tangible product. Subscriptions and advertising covered the costs of employing trained journalists to cover the news, talented graphic artists to design the pages, skilled operators to run the presses, and dozens of others who were part of a team of professionals responsible for providing the news to their community.
Although the majority of people still read their news on the printed page, a growing number are going online. And for more than a decade they have not been charged for online news.
Consumers expect to pay for groceries, gas, clothing and entertainment. Thanks to the internet, however, they expect their news to be free.
As a result of this shift to digital media, newspapers are not being paid for the news they produce and distribute.
Some newspapers have developed paywalls. Their online visitors must subscribe in order to read the entire article or read more than a dozen articles per month.
Multi Media Channels wants to continue providing some of its content from the Waupaca County Post, the New London Press Star and the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette at no charge online.
To offer free news online requires some innovative thinking to generate revenue to pay staff and keep the lights on.
That’s why MMC is partnering with Google and introducing a market-research tool called “Google Consumer Surveys.”
In the near future, when online readers click a story, a survey with two questions pops up on their screen. Answering the questions only takes a few seconds.
And each time a reader responds to the survey, Waupaca County’s three premier newspapers collect a small fee from Google.
Google says the surveys are anonymous, no personal data is collected, and the answers will not result in a sudden influx of spam.
Visitors who do not want to answer the surveys can have access to the online content if they share stories through Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter.
After the surveys are implemented, MMC will monitor and tweak them to ensure the reader’s experience is as convenient as possible.