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Print & online couplings maximize the ad dollar

Print&OnlineCouplingsSince the advent of the Web, users have learned not to blink an eye when ad boxes pop up or grace the side of a Web page. Automatically closing a window and installing pop-up blockers has become a reflex. Print, on the other hand, still retains the tangibility of advertisements that clearly cannot be blocked. Advertisers know this. And until now, they have thrown more advertising dollars into print than the Web. But according to Wired, online ad sales have recently shown signs of climbing. Does a growth in online sales mean that more print magazines will go online-only, or will they try coupling with online news sources?

Some magazines already fit this mold. Money magazine and Fortune are linked through CNNMoney.com, which boasts that it’s “A Service of CNN, Fortune, and Money.” CNN.com also has a partnership with TIME.com, where both outlets regularly reference each other’s reports.

The fusion of print and online was highly iconic when Newsweek and The Daily Beast announced their merger. Several weeks ago, neither side could agree on who would run what and how. However on Nov. 12, they announced they would indeed merge. This decision left many scratching their heads in bewilderment. Could Newsweek’s new owner Sidney Harman resurrect the struggling brand through Tina Brown’s perseverance? Would the coupling of Newsweek and The Daily Beast last, or would Newsweek officially crumble and settle for alimony?

Initially, Newsweek.com was told it would be shut down even though it had double the traffic of The Daily Beast – an average of 5.1 million monthly unique users in 2009 compared to the Daily Beast’s 2 million. However, Web analytics company Omniture now says The Daily Beast’s website has 4.8 million unique users each month as of October 2010. So what do these numbers mean for the future of advertising revenue and readership loyalty of the Newsweek Daily Beast Company? The two sites are popular, that’s for sure. But several sources have noted the two media groups have lost millions. Newsblog Digital Tonto noted that Newsweek thought “the increase in ad rates and decrease in printing costs would make Newsweek profitable,” but that they drastically failed. So what’s next? For complete success and a legitimate profit, both outlets will have to display ads that engage both Daily Beast and Newsweek readers.

Meanwhile, when U.S. News & World Report announced they would fold their print edition in December and go exclusively online, media producers and consumers were abuzz. Will it stay afloat solely from its online revenue, or be forced to join hands with another media outlet to seek a better profit?

“Convergence is the inevitable direction of content even if offline [print] versions of magazines remain available. We all want the most eyeballs looking at what we do,” said Willis Baxter Johnson, founder of media production and management company Bayard Entertainment Media. “Online editorial distribution increases the chances of finding loyal readers. Loyal readers equals community equals audience equals marketing targets equals leads.” If online readership and ad revenue is moving on up, then online and print news sources coming together signifies that there is a faint light at the end of the media industry tunnel.

— Zoë Lintzeris

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