herald scotland online & in print

Innovation maintains competitive edge, and it’s not the preserve of start-ups. One business struck hard by digital disruption has shown that in the past week. HeraldScotland.com reported an impressive 5.3million unique users (the number of individual readers using its news site), an all-time high for its online readership. Growth for a news site with a pay barrier is impressive, especially in a sector where Reddit, HuffingtonPost and even Facebook are content kings.

Good news and gloom

Sadly it’s a rare piece of good news within the sector. In recent weeks Newsquest (who own Herald and Times) and competitors Johnston Press (The Scotsman and many regional publications) have made the news for yet another round of job cuts. Reducing staff numbers in response to a declining readership has become routine in recent years.

Digital disruption regardless of size

The newest statistics from Herald and Times follow investment into the digital sector by parent company Newsquest. Not before time resources have been channelled into digital reporting, and embracing digital innovation.

Digital disruption has benefitted every sector (Uber, AirBnB) but failure to innovate has crushed many businesses – comparing the Fortune 100 year on year in recent years will show evidence of that.

Locally, at least, Newsquest is now attempting to sit at the table with the new kings of content. It’s adopted the use of video, hyperlocal reporting and social media to maintain its place.

Late adopters

Reported growth is at a rate of +50% month on month for Heraldscotland.com. While figures have some way to go to catch up with next generation competitors it’s a step in the right direction. Revenue remains key and for the growth to translate into long term solvency digital sales and online advertising revenue will need to make up for deficits in traditional revenue streams.

Tradition shouldn’t stand in the way of innovation

The progress into the digital arena by print publications is painfully slow when compared with the early adopters with whom they compete. However, while the newsrooms are still staffed experience and resources are on side. Like all businesses newspapers must continue to explore ways to monetise in an evolving world.

Changes happen quickly in the digital age and can advance any industry within months following the example of a paper first issued in 1783 may be no bad thing. Taking the opportunity to adopt new technologies and using existing resources cleverly in order to compete in a world where ‘content is king’ could sustain the newspaper industry.

For many of the businesses we meet taking action to innovate has the potential to provide a new revenue stream and breathe vital life into the business. These latest figures illustrate just how valuable that can be, no matter how dire the forecast.