If anyone can help the newspapers transition to an online business it should be Google because it has a 360 degree view of what people do on the web, how much time they spend reading news, where they come from, what time of the day, etc.
Google also has information on what types of ads work best, what the ad rates are, the amount of traffic, and more, much more.
Yet when Google's chief economist, Hal Varian, turned up at the Federal Trade Commission to present a talk, "Newspaper Economics, Online and Offline," the only advice he had was, "Experiment, experiment, experiment," reports Martin Langeveld, at Nieman Journalism Lab.
If that's the best Mr Varian can come up with, that's very bad news indeed for newspapers.
Here is the most dismal, of many dismal stats, that he presented to the FTC:
- online ad revenue is substantially less than 5% of newspaper revenues.
Here is his slide deck:
And here is a PearlTree that represents a collection of web pages on this topic: