Site Publishers Must Actively Engage Online Users to Combat Audience Fragmentation

Although the growth of the Web audience is slowing and online news readership is flat, it is still possible to capture and retain new online audiences. According to a new research study published by JupiterResearch, “Best Practices in Networked Media: Countering Audience Fragmentation:

“It is essential for content producers to focus on the things they do best, outsource everything else, and find new sources of revenue through services. New technologies and ways of doing business are making this easier.

According to the study, online news audience growth is flat and the market is highly fragmented, with nearly one-half of traffic going to sites that are below the top 100 news sites. To compete in such a fragmented market, news publishers must treat content creation and distribution as separate businesses. Their destination sites should strive to be category portals by aggregating and integrating content and services from other sources. Widgets play an important role in distribution strategies: Widget users are two-thirds more likely to use online news sources on a weekly basis than are overall online users.

“While the choices of news sites online continue to grow – making it more challenging for content producers to attract and keep visitors – producers need new strategies for connection of their content with audiences,” said Barry Parr, Media Analyst at JupiterResearch and lead author of the report. “It’s becoming more difficult every day for potential audiences to find you.”

JupiterResearch found that a sound widget strategy is the precursor to the transition from website to platform. And to be truly successful and thrive in an environment that continues to evolve, publishers must transform themselves into platforms, supplying core interfaces, services, and revenue sharing to support a distributed ecosystem of partners.

“There are more opportunities for distribution and more creative solutions to the problem of connecting content to the right audience. The problem of connecting audiences with content on the Net has not yet been solved, and neither has the problem of what media should look like when video, text, and databases can be mixed on the page,” explained David Schatsky, President of JupiterResearch. “There is no reason to believe that the solutions to these two problems will come from the same source, and plenty of reason to believe otherwise. In this environment, media organizations should reconsider the rationale for having their Web content and distribution businesses in the same building, or even the same business unit.”

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