Should Traditional Media Give Up On Web?

Maybe it’s time to just shut down your website? This jaw dropping question was posed recently to a group of frustrated, local media execs.

These seasoned managers were frustrated by their inability to build a profitable web business, even after years of pouring money, manpower, and technology into the effort. The investment bank that owned the company started to dig deeper into the issue as their patience was wearing thin with the Internet manager’s common refrain of: we need more traffic!

Why would someone even consider suggesting that they just pack it in and surrender? The answer probably lies somewhere between local media’s suicidal death grip on how things used to be, and their sheer blindness to the fast growing army of digital competitors invading their home turf.

If those in charge would prefer to focus on their core product, that’s fine. If they believe their own BS that “web revenue is small, so let’s ignore it”….that’s fine too. But at the end of the day, if you’re not going run your web assets like a profit-first business…then why even have a digital initiative in the first place? Just shut it off and focus on the traditional platform.

For local TV, Radio and Newspaper, the tradition of  ‘build it and they will come’ no longer works in the online world. Thanks to new and ferociously aggressive competitors like Patch, Reach local and Groupon, these online-only players are now offering local advertisers a choice of marketing channels, at a lower price and a higher level of accountability.

Life was sweet when all we had to do was create content and the audience would swarm like flies. By virtue of our pseudo monopoly, we were assured that advertisers would pay the price if they wanted to reach the local audience. They really had very little choice in the matter. We took advantage of that. Today, national sites like Gawker Media crush most newspaper traffic & revenue numbers, and hyper-local upstarts like Brooklyn Bugle go after the mom and pop ad budgets with gusto.

If local media continues to down play or underestimate these new threats, they may eventually find it financially advantageous to pull the plug on what was once considered their bright, new future.

The following slides demonstrate a few of the issues holding back traditional media, from executing a successful digital game plan, and effectively competing against these new online competitors.

Traditional Media Struggles w/ Web Revenue 9.10

Traditional Media Struggles w/ Web Revenue 9.10

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