Inefficient print

We already knew that newspapers’ classified business was as good as gone, but even so I found these stats from the Wall Street Journal this morning devastating:

Last March, Baylor Health Care System, a large Dallas-based nonprofit, began purchasing keywords on Google, Yahoo and employment-related search engines and The search-engine ads generated more applicants, at less cost, than the other recruiting methods, says Eileen Bouthillet, director of human resources communications.

In the first six months of the program, Ms. Bouthillet says, the search-engine ads delivered 5,250 applicants, at an average cost of $4. By contrast, Baylor paid an average of $30 for each of the 3,125 applicants who came via job boards, and $750 each for the 215 applicants who replied to a newspaper or magazine ad.

As a result, Ms. Bouthillet says Baylor has reduced spending on job boards and print ads. . . .

UPS says it received more than 150,000 applications from [its holiday hiring] campaign, at an average cost 75% to 80% cheaper than print ads. “We’re cutting newsprint wherever we can and trying to move more to online media,” says Matthew Lavery, corporate work-force planning manager. “Google is outperforming other online media.”

If this is true of job advertising, it will be true of other categories – including papers’ last hope: retail – especially local ones as mobile makes Google even better at targeting. Google has the mechanism to serve small, local advertisers who were never served by papers; papers don’t. I think this probably means that the best opportunity local outlets have is to help local advertisers with their SEO – to place ads on Google for them. (See Fred Wilson’s tweet on this model at CUNY’s New Business Models for News Summit.)

Print has always been inefficient. Now advertisers are learning just how inefficient as online becomes more efficient. This is another reason to develop the strategy to drop print now.