Chris Graham: Online advertising in the paywall era

chris-graham-links3The New York Times famously instituted a paywall to its content in 2011, and saw its readership decline immediately – with unique readers down 20 percent and page views down 15 percent since the switch was made.

It makes a lot of business sense for newspapers to go the paywall route. It doesn’t make a lot of business sense for online advertisers to stay on board with newspapers making this move.

Bottom line: A newspaper putting its online content behind a paywall is putting fewer eyeballs on your advertising message. Don’t fall for the sales pitch that the paying customers are more valuable, either. If that was the case, you’d see the likes of the Times pushing its advertising rates upward, which is not what is happening.

In fact, there seems to be downward pressure on online newspaper ad rates as advertisers continue to look for the best value for their marketing dollars.

For some of you reading this, the best value is Google AdWords, which work well for companies with products and services with global appeal, but can be very expensive if your focus is on getting local consumers to come into your store, or if you’re a service-sector business focusing on a specific local geographic area.

Facebook ads work for others reading this, particularly those selling products online and especially those in the events industry trying to get people to buy tickets.

We all no doubt continue to work on traditional advertising – TV, radio, print, plus as appropriate rack cards, business cards, brochures, posters, signs and related materials.

The wild card is what to do about the local newspaper that now limits the access the general public has to its content through a paywall system. experimented with a move in that direction in 2010 before deciding that it didn’t make business sense for the company given our business model.

Our focus continues to be on providing readers with up-to-date information on local, state and national news, politics, sports and events, and paying the bills by offering advertisers the chance to get their marketing messages to our reader base at affordable rates.

At a million page views per month, there are plenty of reasons why we can think that you can have success committing a portion of your marketing budget to us.

If you want to learn more about how we can bring attention to your message through online advertising, contact Crystal Graham today at or 540.910.0434.

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