The newspaper business has missed out on a lot of opportunities over the years. Here’s one they shouldn’t miss: repackaging content for niches.
Most major markets have an industry specialization or two. In Detroit it’s the auto industry. Minneapolis has retail and medical devices. Charlotte has banking. Each of those industries has a number of companies in it.
Because I work on automotive products, I frequently end up on the Detroit Free Press’ site. Usually it’s because someone sent me a link or I found the story through an aggregator. Freep.com has a business front page, but often those stories there aren’t relevant to me. There should be an easier way: I should be able to subscribe to feeds about the auto industry and the companies I follow. A halfway decent publishing system should make this a very simple process.
But they don’t seem to be capitalizing on the advertising opportunity. Having a highly targeted business audience makes that traffic much more valuable. A conference that is targeting decisionmakers in the auto industry can spend a lot more than the spam ad inventory that is classmates.com. (Which is what currently appears on the Freep page.)
Newspapers can also serve other niches depending on the local market. The most obvious is out-of-town fans of local sports teams.