Retaining and Growing Readers on Newspaper Web and Mobile Sites

I am from one of the last generations of ritual NY Times Sunday edition readers. I have fond memories of taking the tree with me to parks and beaches during the summertime to read the magazine and many of the other sections. I even found my first out of college jobs from a help wanted ad in the Times that my wife (then girlfriend) mailed to me while finishing grad school at the University of Arizona.

Flash many years later, and how do I read the Times?

Several years ago I became a web only reader but never signed up for Times Select despite missing my weekly dose of Thomas Friedman. When I got a blackberry, I became largely a mobile user and read most of the articles I wanted during my commute. Sometimes, I feel like I'm missing something when reading the mobile dining section while catching a glimpse of the full color print edition that the person next to me is browsing, but it still doesn't compel me to buy a copy.

And now of course there's my Twitter stream. I get most of the NYT articles that I would want to read from the NYT Business Twitter feed plus tweets from friends. So I don't visit the NYT mobile every day now. Now, even when the NYT finds a way to monetize mobile, my engagement will be limited to the articles I read with little opportunity to present related content or social experiences that would drive higher engagement.

Such is the difficulty of the traditional and newspaper publisher who is trying to retain subscriptions, increase digital readers, and increase engagement. It's a hard problem. News sites have to get very strong at working web analytics, understanding how to reach new audiences, and essentially targeting some of their writing based on audience needs. I will continue to read the NYT, they will just have to work harder to get my attention.

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