Old media dinosaurs looking to the Internet to make up for declining print sales will find this analysis disquieting:
In the first three months of this year, the average amount of time visitors spent on newspaper sites fell by 2.9% to 44 minutes and 18 seconds per month, or less than 1½ minutes per day. In the same period, the average number of pages viewed per unique site visitor dropped by 6.6% to 47.2 per month…
The decline in the average duration of sessions at newspaper web pages suggests that visitors are not utilizing the industry’s sites as primary destinations, but, rather, as places to episodically view individual articles highlighted by Google News, Drudge, Digg, blogs or any of the thousands of other places they might be.
So, if you happen to see a link at, say, NRO to something in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, you’ll click and read it, and then go away and not return to the paper until you click another link that tickles your fancy. That’s a hard model to sell to advertisers.
American newspapers have only themselves to blame. Instead of recognizing the necessity to reinvent their approach online, for the most part they simply transferred their old dullness to the new technology. Their print drabness derived mostly from the complacency of their local monopoly, and that’s the one thing you can’t transfer to the Internet. It will take more than the web to save these sclerotic franchises.