Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

What are people really buying online?

Posted in Ideas for the future of news, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on September 14, 2010

What do you think people are buying on the internet?

Here’s a cool infographic by Permuto, showing us what gets people (in the US at least) to click “buy now” online. The hatched areas give us an idea of what percentage of certain products are purchased online instead of in a physical store.

What’s interesting for journalists is that people are buying more books, magazines, clothes and electronic items online than offline. These are the sort of sales which can support an independent news offering. I recently blogged for TNTJ that people won’t pay for news, rather we have to find other ways to fund it. This neat infographic shows us some good avenues to explore. Selling books and information products online should, for journalists, be second nature.

And if your niche is health journalism, you ought to be seeing a massive business opportunity in this image…

4 Responses

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  1. IanVisits said, on September 15, 2010 at 9:20 am

    The problem with journalism being effectively subsidised by 3rd party sales is that there will always be something coming down the line to kill off your subsidy sales.

    Craigslist/ebay killed off the classified adverts – and you can be fairly sure that if you start selling DVDs, books etc on your website, that someone will come along and kill off your revenue stream at some point in the future.

    Difficult, but what we need to do is find some mechanism of making journalism pay for itself in its own right.

  2. Gary King said, on September 15, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    This is a really interesting graphic Adam and I’m sure that it illustrates how shopping habits are changing. However i’m a bit confused by some of the stated facts. Is it saying that in the States twice as many clothes are bought online (including catalogue & telephone) than in real shops? That food, beer and wine one looks a bit suspect as well.

  3. Adam Westbrook said, on September 15, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    @Gary: yes that’s what the infographic is saying. The figures, as it says, are from the American Census Bureau – you’d have to pursue any queries with them.

    @Ian: it’s a combination of the two – I’m not really suggesting running a newspaper alongside a general online shop, more selling a niche info product to a hungry market plus all the other paraphernalia that niche may crave. So if you were running a news website for medical students, you’d want to have a line in stethoscopes, scrubs and textbooks.

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