Well, we ran across one of those periodic what’s-goin’-on-with-online-newspapers reviews the other day. Half of the advice applies equally to portals, which, as you know already, we pretty much hate.

“This has been an industry that has been based on me-tooism and fads,” [a commentator] said. “Whenever someone did something, everyone else had to do it. When anyone spent money,even too much money, everyone else had to do it.” [...] “Five years ago, so many consumer-targeted Web sites imagined being almost everything,” [an executive] continued. “Everyone imagined they could sell cars, have auctions, be an E-commerce player and change the way you invited people to parties – all at once.”

Specialize, for heaven’s sake.

[N]ewspaper sites offer a better sense of who the audience is than Web portals with great amounts of traffic.... “What we like to do, especially for direct marketing clients,” [an ad agent] said, “is to track the quality of audience – what leads are generated, who turns into sales. Newspaper sites give us more qualified leads or sales than other sources.” Compared with all-sports sites and most search engines, “the news does wind up pulling ahead in terms of response rates and quality of audience,” she said.

Of course. Visitors of newspaper sites can at least read and write, while frequenters of “all-sports sites” and search engines have vocabularies limited to “XFL,” “Britney Spears,” and “hot lesbo action.”

Posted on 2001-01-12