Last week, I wrote that ad-funded digital news publishers were having a terrible time. But there are some reasons for optimism, if publishers are prepared to think more strategically.
It’s been apparent for a few years that US regional titles are performing better than their UK counterparts, despite costs being taken out en masse by their owners. It’s an apples-to-oranges comparison to some extent, given that the scale of ‘local’ is so different between the two countries, but the reality is that US local news titles are looking more sustainable than your average local paper (which isn’t actually saying all that much).
There are a few reasons why that might be the case: In the UK regional publishers tend to take costs out from local titles, and retreat to hub-based models that rob each title of truly local content (a rant Matt had five years ago, and which proved to be prescient). That then has a knock-on effect on UK local titles’ websites, which are for the most part unfit for purpose and flooded with low-quality ads in an attempt to salvage all possible revenue.
But the primary reason I would like to believe US titles are in ruder health than UK counterparts is that