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The Telegraph and its widgets

The Daily Telegraph is making strides in implementing its online strategy after the latest ABCe figures revealed that the Mail Online had overtaken it to become the UK’s most popular national newspaper site in May, with 18.7 million unique users.

Crucially, the Telegraph isn’t just thinking that having a Facebook and Twitter presence is the key to a great digital strategy, like so many of its rivals. What the Telegraph has realised is that just as social media allows individuals to consume media in a more fragmented and personalised way, so they can actually benefit from that, by allowing individuals to follow personalised sections of Telegraph content. The dream for content owners trying to fight against falling traditional media circulations, is being able to segment and offer their content online to their audience in a completely personalised way. It’s quite an involved process to achieve that when you consider how broad a national newspaper’s coverage is, and how many segments that could be, but the Telegraph has taken a big first step on that road, and with these widgets is making an important stride into the mobile space too.

What is worth noting about the Telegraph’s approach is that six of its eight new widgets are all designed to drive traffic and engagement with Telegraph TV – the online video that’s become so important to all the major newspapers. Beyond that, there’s a breaking news widget and a toe in the water with a slightly more ‘niche’ European Championships Football widget. Apparently there are plans to launch further specific sports and business widgets shortly.

Above all this shows the Telegraph’s open approach to digital and clear understanding that it’s not just about pushing people through the Telegraph.co.uk front page, or amassing a number of fans on a Facebook page or twitter feed, but giving people direct access to the content they are really interested in, in the way they want it. We’ll just have to see in the next two or three months how big an impact that will have on the ABCe figures…

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Are newspapers really on the brink of extinction?

That’s what an interesting article in the latest edition of The Economist claims, specifically looking at the US newspaper market. The piece uses the faltering fortunes of the New York Times as a case in point, citing slipping circulation figures and advertising revenues being down 12.5 per cent on the same time last year. Now the two are, to a large extent linked. What is to blame, I hear you ask? well nothing other than The Big Bad Internet offering free, 24/7 news coverage and taking with it a share of the classified advertising newspapers relied on for so many decades.

But that’s the bad half of the story, the good half of the story is the vast oppotunity the The Big Bad Internet is offering media companies. People’s habits have changed, and the 24/7 news market moved away from newspapers a long time ago to TV and cable news networks. It’s just gone online too in the past five years. So what’s the big problem? Well there isn’t one if you accept how media consumption has changed and adapt. London’s Daily Telegraph has done so and seen it’s web site traffic surge.

Newspapers will never die – there will always be a huge market of individuals who like the experience of leafing through a newspaper, and getting stuck into more detailed news analysis and features. Those same people will likely be getting their breaking news fix online. I can say that with confidence because I am one of those people.

The key for newspapers is to understand that dynamic and look at what kind of publication you are, want to remain and adapt to reach your audience through the channel they want to receive you through. IDG is one media house that’s done that successfully and is doing very well out of it. Now it’s time that others follow suit, rather than moan about how traditional media consumption no longer exists.

Change, is after all, a good thing. Isn’t it?