Seen the vastly improved Pitch website lately?
Not too shabby for a dying news and entertainment medium. Seriously, keeping the grim reaper at bay for print publications these days is no easy task. Especially when you’re giving away the principle product free-of-charge.
Even big city newspapers like the Kansas City Star that have the luxury of extorting readers for hundreds of dollars each year while offering less and less news product are fighting a losing battle to stave off the red ink.
When the mighty Boston Phoenix bit the dust two years ago – one of the nations top alt-weeklies – it was losing more than $1 million a year, was $1.2 million in debt with only $500,000 in assets and wasn’t even able to sell the publication to try and cover part of that debt.
Not a good sign.
The Pitch on the other hand never came close to approaching the profitability of the Phoenix in its hey day. Although it wasn’t that many years back that 100 plus page issues were the norm, where today the pub is lucky to choke out 36 pages with a small fraction of the advertisers it once enjoyed.
The problem being that the lion’s share of the Pitch’s revenues are derived from it’s fading fast print product, with but a tiny fraction coming from it’s s striking new (and likely better read) website.
The bottom line: It’s all about logistics.
For example, when a reader snags a print Pitch – while taking a break at a local eatery or watering hole – in a perfect world, he or she will browse through it, turning the pages while scanning for something of interest with the potential of seeing each and every ad.
That enabled the Pitch to offer a wide variety of advertisers – hundreds of them – the prospect of being seen by tens of thousands of eyeballs in return for their ad bucks.
That’s the way it used to be and that’s why 100-plus page Pitch issues were not unusual.
However with far fewer halfway younger readers picking up print Pitches, far fewer advertisers are willing to ante up because they’re not seeing anywhere near the results that they once were before the readers migration to online.
Worse yet, far fewer ads are being seen online because readers no longer thumb through the entire Pitch product like they did with print, they simply scan the online headlines and pick and choose which ones interest them.
The problem being that the Pitch can only glom a very few ads onto each online page, the result being that far fewer advertiser’s ads are being displayed and seen.
For example, a small Westport or Brookside boutique that maybe could only afford a small ad got significantly more exposure in the print Pitch but is all but, if not totally lost online.
This isn’t something g unique to the Pitch, by the way.
Have you seen the Star’s website with those ubiquitous, annoying pop up ads?
It’s a losing battle.
So kudos to the gang at the Pitch for fighting the good fight. Maybe one day – and it better be soon – somebody will figure out a new formula for online advertising success.
Until that day, the buzzards will continue to circle and what’s left of its massively diminished staff will continue to work on their resumes while contemplating uncertain futures.