Written by Jo Oliphant
Manager, Continuous Feed Europe
Xerox Corporation

When was the last time you bought a newspaper? When did you last read one?

It’s mind boggling how effortlessly our connected world is able to link together information through an array of sources. The information comes in many forms…some is factual, some anecdotal, others consist of opinions via blogs and social media, and of course, there are those that blend both facts and opinions. Key to this is access to content. Smart-phones and tablets enable access like never before and in almost any location too, giving you ‘news on demand’ as breaking stories unfold. It can make newspapers look incredibly out of date when they appear the next day (worse if the headlines have fundamentally changed since the newspaper went to press). And yet, as a newspaper reader (and purchaser), there is a vastly different experience to be had from reading a newspaper and feeling the substrate between your fingertips.

Man Holding Newspaper

I buy one newspaper every Sunday for its content, presentation and in-depth analysis that I am not able to find on free-to-view websites (the publisher charges for access to their news). I also read the physical newspaper because it isn’t on a screen and there are no other distractions to take me away from what I’m reading. Truth be told, between having eleven tabs open on my web browser and fidgeting through my iTunes playlist, it would take far less than a pop-up to distract me and encourage a behaviour of trying to do five things at once.

A printed newspaper promotes a more linear approach to absorbing information, with far fewer distractions.

One of the more recent emerging trends are free newspapers, as an example, my local city, London, has three of them. Admittedly, the content in one of them is relatively light, one is business focused and the last one is more like a conventional newspaper; but each has a lot more in the way of advertising. I often wonder to myself how long these newspapers will carry advertisements, especially with the abundance of easy click-through advertisements populating the Internet. Without the ability to leverage a click-through advertisement, the advertisers call-to-action for consumers is to have them visit a website, taking them away from the newspaper. And unless the advertisement contains a tear-off coupon or promotion code, it gets tricky for advertisers to track metrics and ROI for their advertising efforts.

The one area where there has been some movement is with personalized newspapers. Personalized newspapers create a unique experience for the consumer, populated with content based on the readers’ preferences. Taking the same basic form of the mass produced title, personalized newspapers offer many opportunities, including relevancy to the users’ specific needs. With the ability to reach specific demographics, advertising space now carries a premium among interested advertisers. And with the cost of fuel and shipping rates rising, the efficiency offered through production at point of need is essential – especially given that people are willing to pay a premium to obtain items with higher perceived value. Lastly, by not being built on the ‘sale or return’ model, this process also reduces waste. This represents a truly win-win situation for consumers, advertisers, printers, and the environment.

While this is all well and good, it doesn’t solve the underlying challenge at hand: online content can make newspapers out of date the second they go to press.

The crux of the issue is: do you think there’s a sustainable business model with printed newspapers?

With Hunkeler Innovationdays fast approaching, Xerox will be helping customers answer these questions and many more. Be sure to subscribe to this blog to stay up-to-date on the latest news, as well as follow the conversation using #XeroxHunkeler on Twitter.

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