The Liverpool Daily Post's closure was announced earlier this week, marking the death of yet another beloved regional newspaper.
However, it seems as one Post closes, another opens. And on Monday, Google rolled out a revolutionary new advertising format - +Post Ads - that take advantage of its flagship social network Google+.
In this article, we'll take a look at how these two events illustrate the changing media landscape and discuss the long-term implications for marketing and PR.
It seems the writing has long been on the wall for the Liverpool Daily Post, which was cut back from being a daily morning paper to a weekly title in January 2012, despite maintaining day-to-day updates on its website.
After reviewing its north-west portfolio, owners Trinity Mirror opted to shut down the century-old publication with the "heaviest of hearts". Fortunately for the journalists and staff that manned the paper, it's coverage will be consolidated into an expanded version of the Liverpool Echo.
Commenting on the rationale behind the decision, Trinity Mirror north-west managing director Steve Anderson Dixon said:
"Sadly, the Liverpool city region no longer generates the demand in terms of advertising or circulation, to sustain both the Post and the Liverpool Echo."
And this latest closure is merely a symptom of an endemic trend within the industry. Research from the Press Gazette found that more than 240 local papers had closed between 2005 and 2011, while only 70 new publications were launched within this period.
Ads and Apathy
Truth resists simplicity and there's no one definitive reason for the decline of local papers, but there are definitely a range of contributing factors we can point to.
Papers make their money from advertising and Trinity Mirror's readership downturn in Liverpool is a situation that's been echoed around the country for the best part of a decade. Without people viewing ads, the value of ad space within a publication slumps significantly.
This can in turn lead to cutbacks in the scope of a paper's coverage, the amount of staff it employs and how often it's published - a downward spiral that typically ends with its closure.
So what has caused this lack of engagement with local publications in recent years? One correlative factor is the changing way in which your average person consumes their media. Print can seem positively antiquated in the face of online options that allow you to cherry pick the sort of coverage you want on a range of issues at the click of a button.
Our phones are getting smarter, tablets and other mobile computers are getting cheaper and more prevalent, and people are spending much more time locked behind a computer screen both in work and at home.
These changing habits aren't just confined to papers, however, and are increasingly reflected in the way we interact with visual media. Back in 2000, Netflix was reportedly laughed out of the office for suggesting a partnership with Blockbuster and it's since become a global powerhouse. Our appetite for on-demand content is clear and it's not going to fade away anytime soon.
Another field that's seen exponential growth in the past 10 years is social media. This has been a bumper year for the medium and there's little chance we'll see a decline in usage as time goes on.
One especially burgeoning network is Google+ - which has shrugged off its image as a ghost town and gone on to consistently outpace the likes of Twitter and YouTube in terms of activity in 2013.
Here at RDPR, we're particularly big fans of the platform and not just because of its benefits for marketers. It offers a truly great experience for those willing to give it a try and its integration with Google's suite of products (and indeed its mobile software and hardware) is seamless.
And that's why I think the company's radical approach to building a social network is epitomised in the way it's chosen to handle monetisation through advertising. Rather than opting to shove in ugly ads in the sidebar, +Post Ads will utilise Google's adsense network to embed actual Google+ posts in advertising space on external sites.
This revolutionary approach offers a wealth of potential for brands and businesses willing to roll up their sleeves and create engaging content that people genuinely want to interact with and share.
It's also another nail in the coffin for fire-and-forget advertising that impinges upon the user's experience, rather than enriching it. Early indications suggest it will be monetised on a pay-per-engagement basis, meaning that advertisers will have to plunge their efforts into carefully targeting content - rather than blasting ads at a vague demographic and hoping something sticks.
We're excited to see how the roll-out progresses and will be paying close attention to how bands utilise this novel technique in the coming year.
Are you still unconvinced about Google+? Do you think Post Ads are a viable way to employ social advertising or are they simply a gimmick that will see little uptake from everyone but the biggest players?
We're always keen to hear your thoughts, so don't be a stranger and drop us a line in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Jeffrey Hughes, Daniel James and Wiki Commons