Monday, 9 June 2008

Who is Moon of Alabama? What IS the value of print?

I recently posted on a blogger who picked apart some issues concerning how the NYT explained oil price movements.

So who was this blogger and reader?

'Moon of Albama', AKA Jay, is of course a US citizen.

Here's what he wrote to me about the IHT:

"As a matter of fact, I do read IHT on line, and in April, when I was in the Netherlands, I'd pick it up daily to read on the train. (I was following the Democratic primaries.) Yeah, it's a great paper. When I lived in London, I subscribed to the print edition; it was one of my links to "home," but gave me news of Europe, too."

So from an advertising perspective, not an ideal candidate for the print story, and an exact template for any agency who says the IHT is read by US expats/travellers who want to keep in touch with home - but perhaps a great profile for the online ad sell, if only the IHT knew, or anyone knew, who the hell Jay actually was and what he did.

With online readers coming through the side door, with no registration, even if it is free, what can the IHT sell? Unique visitors, usual online advertising BS, where they are from and some probably rather weak online surveys of readers.

Click-through then, surely, is only the way sites like will eventually be able to sell advertising on, just like Google. I'm just not convinced there's enough money in that, on the volumes a site like can offer. So that leads us to the question of click through and client contact or even conversion. Tricky. Glad I'm not selling advertising for

As of right now IHT advertising can't say much more than 'readers of' are like Moon of Alabama', who is actually called Jay.

Knowing the first names of one's readers isn't much use in a pitch.

I guess the question for everyone is, as ever: what's the model, stupid?

According to Krugman everything that can be digitized will be given away for free, sooner or later. What if that's to include online advertising? Now I am confused.

Personally, I'm not yet buying the premise that the future of newspapers is online. Way too soon to call that one, not because people won't read them online, but because they haven't cracked the revenue nut.

I'd be working on those print strategies myself. At least for a while. Because what can't be digitized is the 'value of print' as a user experience.

What SDJ needs to work out for the IHT is how to augment 'the value of print' of the IHT print product.

What can print give the reader that online or Kindle can't?

What IS the value of print?

I've a few ideas on this.

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