What is the long-term value of a print customer?

Working too hard to preserve our existing margins can lead us to ignore longer-term opportunities.
Between 20 and 100 additional online users are needed for every print reader lost by a newspaper, according to an article in today’s UK Guardian. This is because print has a much greater revenue per reader. The article is based on the work of Vin Crosbie, for whom I have a lot of respect.
However, this assumes that print revenue per user will remain at its current high levels. With the newspaper industry already managing its own decline, it’s time to acknowledge that current revenue per reader figures are pretty meaningless in the long run. Revenue per print reader is the result of an unstable dynamic system of print circulation figures, the cost of newsprint, a declining base of classified and retail revenue, the lower cost of printing a smaller paper, newsroom cuts, and massive capital infrastructure. It might be impossible to model, but it’s a safe bet that revenue per reader in long-term decline.
Meanwhile, we’ve only begun the transition of our audiences from print (or TV) to online and to tap the revenue potential of each of those new readers we’ve acquired.
Originally published on my blog at JupiterResearch.