Monday, November 7, 2011

Emerging Technologies to Help Newspapers?

Instead of fighting with emerging technologies that many say will kill newspapers as we know them, the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) is using digital outlets to encourage dialog about people’s connections with newspapers.  NAA’s “Smart is the NewSexy” campaign has been developed to encourage conversations about why people read their newspapers and what matters to them with respect to content and other consumer insights.  I am not sure if this campaign will truly save newspapers as new and current alternatives make news readership more convenient and enjoyable.
Newspaper Association of America (NAA)
 “Smart is the New Sexy” is a attention grabbing title, and it even got me to research the campaign after reading the article on  Sex sells, but can it sell newspapers in today’s ever changing media environment?  People are choosing to get their news through other forms (mobile, web, TV, social) because it allows them to use tools at their immediate disposal such as their smartphone or computer.  I wonder if the inconvenience of newspapers also has something to do with consumers looking for alternative methods of educating themselves as to world events. I’m not a fan of having to wash the ink of my hands after reading a newspaper or the inconvenience of messy page turning - especially on a crowded train.
Additionally, you can’t deny the cool factor of using your smartphone or touchpad.  Since these alternate methods of acquiring news is becoming an increasingly popular and preferred method of receiving news, I’m not really sure how successful this campaign will be with respect to changing behavior.   A survey taken by eMarketer reveals that an average user spends 50 minutes on their smartphone vs. 30 minutes reading a newspaper. Other reports show that more than 70% of today’s population owns a mobile phone.  Additionally, an infographic produced by Microsoft Tag shows that 36% of people use their mobile phones to read the news.  The same infographic also shows that the mobile internet will overtake desktop internet usage by 2014.  Couple this with the ever increasing prevalence of smartphones and you are likely to see traditional newspaper readership go to the way of the Walkman.
Since traditional newspaper readership and circulation is down, news organizations such as The New York Times have had to think of creative ways to continue generating revenue and have turned to paid online subscriptions.  People still want the news, they just want it how they want it, and this tends to be digitally as is evidenced by Cris R. Kramer’s article and interesting infographics in The Death of Print: Why Newspapers are Folding

“Smart is the New Sexy” is using Twitter and Facebook to increase awareness of their campaign.  The Twitter Hashtag, #smartsexy, is being received with various degrees of success and their Facebook campaign is seeing minimal response.  A tweet on Twitter states: “#SmartSexy is a well-executed, poorly thought out marketing campaign.  Good luck, newspaper guys.  You definitely need it.”

NAA’s “Smart is the New Sexy” campaign might be preaching to an empty room.  People want to consume news and be informed of what is going on around them and worldwide, they just want to do it their own way.  I think that all evidence points towards print journalism seeing its end, with digital taking over as the means with which people will consume their news.

Yanette Jimenez
M.S. Integrated Marketing Communications
Twitter: yanetteejimenez

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