Tabloid’s online profit a media first

With 1.5 million monthly users, Ekstra Bladet is in an ideal position to earn money through online adverts while other mainstream media struggle for profitability

Making a living from news is hard. Do you hide it behind a pay-wall and risk your readers turning to a competitor who gives it away for free? And if you choose to give it away for free, is it feasible to run a business solely from advertising sales?

Few have found the right formula, but Lars Munch, managing director of JP/Politikens Hus, believes one of its publications, the tabloid Ekstra Bladet, is the first in Denmark properly earn a living online.

“The digital side has earned profits in the tens of millions,” Munch said. “We are certainly the first newspaper to have cracked the nut and recoup lost earnings from the print side.”

Most of the profits are derived from banner adverts around online TV segments – profits which have given Munch reason for hope.

“It’s the first the time [the profits] been large enough for us to see a future in both a printed and digital version of the paper.”

With 1.5 million monthly users and 175 million page views, Ekstra Bladet is in an optimum position to generate profit from online advertising, a problem other news media have yet to solve.

The big problem for online media is that giving away content for free is not sustainable. For other newspapers to survive – including other JP/Politikens Hus publications Jyllands-Posten and Politiken newspapers – they have to find a way to generate income from their readers, users or clients.

Berlingske Media, owners of Berlingske newspaper and tabloid B.T., are currently experimenting with ways of generating income online. According to Munch itÂ’s unlikely they will solve the puzzle this year, though gaining as much experience as possible is vital.

“It will take several years. It probably won’t happen this year or 2013 or 2014, but we have to start now,” Munch said, adding that Jyllands-Posten and Politiken will probably try some sort of pay-wall in the near future.

Top news stories under that strategy are likely to remain free, however.

“I don’t believe we will be able to make people pay for the general news stream. It’s free from the public service media so we can’t charge for it. We are a little irritated by the free competition from the state-funded competition but we can’t do anything about it.”

Munch added that some of the options they were considering included subscription and membership schemes and charging by the article.

“We haven’t made any concrete decisions about how to go about it yet.”

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