Newspapers need new model, argues Schmidt

08 April 2009

SAN FRANCISCO: Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, has urged newspaper owners to build "a new format" for their content, and argued that the search pioneer can play a crucial role in this process.

Google is said to have revolutionised both the advertising and media industries, but is also often regarded as a "frenemy" in these sectors.

Speaking at an event in San Francisco, Schmidt said newspapers must "figure out what your consumer wants," which could include adopting new methods of supply and taking a more personalised approach.

Given the substantial challenges facing many print publications, Google's chief executive also suggested the "only solution we can see" is for the search company to "build a business with you."

He further posited that advertiser-funded online models were preferable to charging users for the right to access content.

Schmidt said "advertising is still the best way to reach a large audience," as it is "very difficult to hold information back" on the internet.

Making sure that ads offer something of interest to consumers is key, as "advertising that is useful is going to work," something which Google knows "because we've tested it."

Overall, Schmidt predicts the newspaper industry could come to resemble the US TV model, with advertiser-funded titles taking on the role of broadcast networks, while subscription-only titles will serve more specific audiences, like pay-TV does.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff