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4 Reasons Why Fairfax’s New Digital Strategy Won’t Work

by on June 20, 2012

1. They Offer No Interaction With Their Readership

Take a look at any story published today on The Age’s website today and scroll down to the comments section. Despite many articles reaching hundreds of comments daily, The Age is nowhere to be seen interacting with it’s readers. While the absence of comments from The Age isn’t a huge issue, their lack of any real interaction with their online readership is. Letters to the editor? It’s 2012 guys.

The Age is still playing old-media games with their readers by producing offline-based content, publishing it online and then abandoning it like an Italian cruise ship captain.

Italian Cruise Ship

Online news is a constantly evolving conversation between publishers, writers & readers that is never really set in stone like a print publication must be and until The Age starts interacting with their readers the way it should, any digital offering will fall flat to an ignored and disinterested audience.

2. Their Social Media Efforts are Laughable

The Age Twitter

A Facebook Page with 6000 likes and a Twitter account with only 60,000 followers doesn’t quite match up considering The Age has a weekday readership of 615,000. That means a measly less than 1% of The Age’s readership liked their Facebook Page and not even 10% follow them on Twitter. Taking a look at their social properties however makes discovering why all too easy.

The Age’s Facebook and Twitter are ghost towns. Twitter, the activity beehive of the internet, is being used by The Age simply to pump out headlines and links with no thought for the medium or it’s audience while their Facebook Page is so bereft of content I thought it was a knockoff until I saw it linked on The Age’s website footer.

Once again there’s no interaction or any evidence of care in The Age’s social properties, which are littered with shared articles and in short supply likes, comments and retweets.

3. They Don’t Care About The User Experience

Autoplay? Seriously Fairfax?

The Age Autoplay

Taking a browse through The Age’s website is enough to make any regular Internet user’s blood boil. You’ve got autoplaying videos, annoyingly obtrusive advertising and a user interface that seems to be deliberately designed to frustrate and annoy readers.

On top of that the whole site seems to be designed to cater to the whims of advertisers and the almighty click, with little thought put into how a reader views and interacts with the site. Pages are crammed with links and baiting headlines in an attempt to make you click on something, anything to push you to the next page of ads. It’s clear who The Age is really for these days, and it isn’t for readers.

I mean just take a look at this. When I click through to an article a whole 12% of my screen real estate is given to the content I asked for:

The Age Content

This is an experience they’re comfortable charging for? Tough sell.

4. Their Website Sucks

Do a quick scan of the few old-media giants that have found success online. Or better yet take a look at these screenshots.

BBC Homepage

BBC

The Guardian Homepage

The Guardian

CNN Homepage

CNN

USA Today Homepage

USA Today


Now look at The Age:

The Age Homepage

The Age

Get the point?

Even excluding the advertising, the page is a chaotic mess of links that contains little structure or semblance of sense.

And Fairfax wants to charge for this.

Why visit The Age as a paid subscriber, when I can either read for free or subscribe to far better online news offerings? Especially as the newspaper gets sucked into the linkbait deathtrap by scrapping journalists jobs and producing more churnalism daily. It’s absurd.

What do you guys think? Will you be paying for The Age’s subscription when they turn the pay wall on? Leave us a comment below!

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