Thursday, November 12, 2009

Down with Newspapers!

So, I just started the Web Academy which is a non profit organization designed to provide FREE web design classes and FREE web design services. The IRS has strict guidelines for educational non profit organizations to acquire a tax exempt status. These guidelines include but are not limited to:
Having a Board of Directors
Directors Annual Meetings
Non-Discrimination Policy
In addition, the IRS requires my educational non-profit organization to place an ad in a newspaper to notify the community about my non-discrimination policy. What is an ad in a newspaper? Oh newspapers, those things made out of paper, which are for reporting current events. Newspapers, those paper things which are out-of-date the moment the ink dries.

My 1st thought was: “I will use an online notification to broadcast my non-discrimination policy”. No, the IRS is strict that my notification must be in a local newspaper. Okay, so I chose the cheapest option. I decided to advertise my non-discrimination policy in my local newspaper called the Hackensack Chronicle. I was appalled to find out that it will cost me $234 to advertise in one addition of that newspaper. This ad will give me only about 17,000 impressions! For those of you who are not familiar with online advertising, I can buy 17,000 impressions online for less than $20.

All of these newspapers need to wake up because (1) most people get their news online for free (2) who would pay 10 times the money for the same reach (3) there isn’t any detailed analytics about who is reading the ads. With online advertising enabled with analytics, I know, age, gender, area code, zip code, city, and overall interests of every person who clicks my ad.

The Solution:
As an avid consumer of information, I would like to have instant access to every newspaper, every magazine and every book ever written in the past 1000 years to current. I am serious. I would be willing to pay $50 per month for this unlimited service. Consumers (like me) would access these works through a wireless "Kindle-like" device. The authors and publishers of these works would be compensated from the monthly subscriptions based on the number of page views of their works. So, if a consumer spends 50% of his page views on The New York Times, 40% on The Wall Street Journal and 10% reading Thomas Freeman's book "The World is Flat", then $25 would be earned by The New York Times, $20 by The Wall Street Journal and $5 by Thomas Freeman. This scenario would be an advertisers dream as ads would be placed in not only magazines and news stories but also the books. The analytics data available on readers would be advertising nirvana. As an example, an advertiser could target specifically women aged 40 and up who live in Boise, Idaho and work in the medical field who love country music. The publishers/authors would be able to charge a premium of this type of ad inventory.

The writing is on the wall. All of these newspapers and magazine need to change their business models or they will quickly be old news like cave drawings and clay tablets. What do you think?