Our local newspaper must be taking a page from the BGE playbook and has quietly increased the price of the daily paper to 75 cents from 50 cents. It was not too long ago that they increased the price of the Sunday paper from $1.00 to $1.50–also a 50% increase.
While no one can dispute the dire straits of the traditional newspaper industry, one wonders if indeed raising prices is the answer. Certainly it will fill a gap, but there are other methods as well–decreasing costs, consolidation of duties, or increased advertising all would work well.
It is a gamble that may have a negative impact on their advertising revenue. In a recession, a 50% increase on anything is difficult to take for most people. Certainly, The Capital would be considered discretionary in most peoples’ budget. Will they be able to maintain their subscriber base? And if not, will the advertiser realize they are no longer getting the best bang for their advertising buck? And certainly businesses are feeling the economic pinch and monitoring their advertising dollars very carefully. And with all content from The Capital available at HometownAnnapolis.com, there is really no need for a consumer to buy a print edition.
The Capital has claimed a circulation of just over 40,000. What are the odds of a subscriber seeing one of the ads run in a print edition? It seems that there might be a decided shift to the much less expensive online market to a smaller more targeted and trackable audience.
For instance, this month, Eye On Annapolis will be exposed to nearly 18,000 unique people who have come to the website. They will be exposed to our advertisers a total of 49,000 times (page views). For a small 2″ ad in The Capital, running 8 times will cost $296 per month. There is a potential of being viewed 320,000 times, but there is no guarantee, nor is there a way to track a reader’s response. At Eye On Annapolis, a similar ad with high visibility on all pages (not select pages) could be as low as $75/month. And exposed to readers 24/7. Sure The Capital has their online ads as well, but for 50,000 impressions at The Capital, it will cost a business $450 and up.
It will be interesting to see if this gamble pays off for The Capital or if it ends up hurting them in the long run. Newspapers all over the nation are in dire straits and many of the oldest and best known papers have shuttered their doors.
It is a difficult time for everyone and raising prices might just not be the right answer.