Monday, February 19, 2007

Playing offense online in Norway

Interesting story here from the International Herald Tribune describes how a Norwegian newspaper publisher has emerged as one of the biggest internet players in Europe and, perhaps, a model for how publishers can profit online. [UPDATE: I somehow missed the fact that this was also an NYT story.]

A taste:
At a time when other newspaper companies lament a loss of readers and advertisers, Schibsted is thriving. No profit warnings here: Earnings rose 28 percent in the fourth quarter. Online operations will generate about 20 percent of the company's revenue this year, according to analysts at Kaupthing, a bank based in Reykjavik, even as many other big newspaper publishers struggle to reach the 10 percent mark.

Perhaps more important, at least for investors, online businesses will provide nearly 60 percent of the company's operating earnings by next year, the Kaupthing analysts predict. Schibsted has become so emblematic of online success that Bharat Anand, a professor at Harvard Business School, is writing one of the institution's well-known case studies on the company. There's clearly something quite special here," Anand said. "There's no question they managed this transition earlier than a lot of newspaper companies, and they're in a better position as a result."


  1. And I still don't know what their secret sauce is.

    To look at the site, it breaks all the rules experts have been telling us online newspapers should do.

  2. I've long since given up on the notion of silver bullets, home runs and secret sauces.

    I'm unaware of anything specific being done in Norway to propel the company to such atypical performance, but I am sure it involves: special conditions in their markets; the existing relationship they had with audiences going into the online era; the speed and scope of their extension into new spaces; dumb luck; any and all combinations of the above.

    Plus a few things I haven't even thought of yet.

    I do think there's a lesson for us form the Great White North: moving doesn't guarantee a win, but standing still loses.