An overview of the finances of Norwegian media companies pieced together by Dagens Medier confirms the trend toward online media outperforming print: In the top 10 list of most profitable companies in 2005 online occupies the top 3 and the number six spot. VG, the largest news site, has a profit margin of 42 percent.
The rest of the list is made up by local newspapers, a printing plant, a radio and a provider of preproduced newspaper pages. The exciting part is how the nouveau riche are going to spend their money. Hopefully struggling print relatives (which most of the top moneymakers have) aren’t going to squeeze innovation by demanding their share of the revenues (to see all the numbers, you have to download the magazine – pdf, 1,6 MB).
Finn.no (no 2) and VG (no 3) are both owned by Schibsted, which is hailed as the shining exception is this week’s Economist cover story on the newspaper business. Among other initiatives, Schibsted early understood that classified ads would move online, and acted by creating Finn.no, which has been a success all along (old news, but worth repeating).
According to the Economist piece, Schibsted’s secret of making money online is to channel users directly to the start page, not having them come in through the search engine door via Google & co:
Three-quarters of traffic to the websites for Schibsted’s VG and Aftonbladet comes through their own home-pages and only a quarter from other websites. “If visitors come from Google to stories deep in the paper and then leave,” explains Mr Munck, “Google gets the dollars and we get only cents, but if we can bring them in through the front page we can charge â‚¬19,000 [$25,000] for a 24-hour banner ad.”
Well, I would have liked to see how the direct to start page vs search engine/blogs/feed ratio has developed over the years. It’s a fair bet that the share of traffic directly into the “deep” is increasing. And that’s probably one reason why Schibsted suddenly started spending a lot of money on their own search engine.