Web users also are viewing more pages and spending more time on newspapers' sites. Last quarter, people viewed an average of 47 pages a month--up from 40 last year--and they spent almost 42 minutes a month at online newspapers, up from around 37 minutes last year.
Randy Bennett, vice president of audience and new business development for the NAA, attributed the jumps in audience to more effective marketing as well as new services and applications, including blogs and platforms for user-generated content, on newspaper Web sites. "Publishers are realizing people are looking for more and different things from the newspaper," he said.
Newspapers still face challenges when it comes to monetizing online readers, however. Currently, an online reader isn't monetized at nearly the rate of a traditional print reader, with estimates for online revenue-per-reader varying from 3% to 33% of print advertising, according to research firm Outsell.
Bennett acknowledged that newspapers are still experimenting with ways to monetize online readership, pointing to bundling of print and online sales as a promising way to boost the value of online readers. He also said newspapers should develop a national network for online ad sales. "It really needs to become much easier to buy across multiple properties, if newspapers are to stay competitive with single sites with a national footprint," he said.