Topical verticals seek revenue beyond the banner ad
Steve Buttry of Gazette Communications, which is embarking on one of the bolder experiments in newspaper.com reinvention, posts a followup to his company's decision to separate content production from product production.
They're aggressively chasing new sources of revenue, specifically transactional opportunities around content (such as selling tickets next to movie reviews etc.) and specialized topical verticals that address the spaces in between the obvious consumer moments.
What if we developed a vertical for the everyday tasks of driving? This would provide a traffic map, gas-price map, pothole map, databases of bridge inspections, parking meter citations and gas-pump inspections. We would provide discussion groups for classic-car fans, parents of teen drivers and other automotive interests. We'd offer a place for sharing photos of souped-up cars and stories about first cars. We'd provide text alerts about traffic problems and road closures. (Many newspaper sites already provide some of these services, but not grouped together. The auto-focused databases are grouped with other databases, as though we want to appeal to some imaginary broad segment of the population interested in data.)
We're working on similar projects. The challenge is how to engage a newsroom focused on daily journalism in providing this kind of content. Not to mention the obvious elephant in the room: Is this journalism at all?