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Opinion

Vision 2023

As we move into the new year, Observer Media Group remains committed to its vision statement: Innovate and elevate.


  • Sarasota
  • Opinion
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Recently, the Florida Press Association commissioned CODA Ventures, an independent research and consulting firm, to conduct a survey among Florida adults ages 18 and older. The study found that every month, 15.1 million — 86% of Florida adults — read local print or digital newspapers. Of those, 78% are digital readers, 63% are print readers and 56% read both print and digital.  In addition, 74% of those Florida newspaper readers are under the age of 65. And more than seven out of 10 Florida adults (72%) access local digital newspaper content through a smartphone.

Despite industry news about newspapers dying, Florida’s print and digital media remain strong. In fact, Florida Press Association’s membership is growing, with the largest increase coming from weekly newspapers and online digital-only news sites. Interestingly, some of the online-only sites are now beginning to print weekly publications, such as the Mainstreet Daily News in Gainesville. 

The Observer Media Group’s print and digital readership is also strong. With a mission to inspire our communities with extraordinary local content and to help our partners prosper, we believe that we will continue to do so, both in print and digitally, for years to come. 

We continue to offer the largest print distribution in the Sarasota-Manatee area, delivering 60,000 papers each week, while our competitors continue to shrink their circulation (Sarasota Herald-Tribune — 27,889*; Bradenton Herald — 14,000**) and raise subscription prices. A yearly subscription to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune is now $754.99*. The Observer remains free for our readers.

Print remains strong, yet our digital audience continues to grow. YourObserver.com, our online daily news site, reached more than 200,000 more people year over year. The number of brand lovers — users who visit the site more than 15 times a month — is up 26%. Subscribers to our Daily Headlines e-newsletter grew 25% and our Deals and Promotions e-newsletter, which delivers marketing messages for our partners, grew 27%. Experiencing the highest growth was a 30% increase in ad impressions served on YourObserver.com. That means our partners’ advertising messages were seen 57,110,594 times! 

Demographically, our audience is becoming younger. About 60% of our users on YourObserver.com are between the ages of 35 and 64, with more than 100,000 of those users falling into the 35 to 44 age range. Last year, our largest group of online users fell into the 55 to 64 range.

Observing this data and the ways readers are consuming news, we spent much of 2022 focusing on our vision statement: Innovate and elevate.


YourObserver.com

Nearly a decade since our last website redesign, we knew it was time to offer an updated version of our site with a new clean design and sharper technology. Noting the fact above how most users access local digital news content through a smartphone (67% of YourObserver.com users access our site via smartphones), we wanted to build a site that had a mobile-first and friendly design that loaded fast. 

Our new site launched Dec. 1. After six months of researching technology and another six months of web development, our team migrated over 70,000 articles into our new platform. 

Stay tuned for new improvements planned for the months ahead. 


Your Observer e-paper app

While our print distribution is the largest in the Sarasota-Manatee area, the demand has continued to grow. Especially in growing communities like Lakewood Ranch — if money were no object, we could double the print distribution of the East County Observer easily. However, with the cost of paper rising with inflation, we would also have to double the cost to advertise in the paper, which would price ourselves out of the market and many small- and medium-sized businesses’ budgets. That challenge is coupled with the fact that Publix corporate recently made a decision to ban distribution of all free newspapers from its stores. Thankfully, our loyal readers lobbied with store managers to have a small number of Observers distributed behind the customer service desks. Yet, the problem still remained: How do we get the Observer into more people’s hands? 

Early next year, you will be able to have the Observer at your fingertips with our new Your Observer e-paper app on your computer, tablet or smartphone. You will be able to read each week’s newspaper or other back issues exactly how it appeared in print. Zoom in and out, swipe through pages, jump through sections and click on a headline for an easy-to-read text view. You can view photos or videos by tapping on an image and swipe through photos from an entire gallery. Love an article, share and post it on social media and print an article or crossword any time you need. It’s your Observer delivered a whole new way. 

Our Newsie members, at 452 strong, will have free access to the Your Observer e-paper app. Otherwise, the app will be available for $5 per month or $50 annually. To be one of the first with access to the app, consider becoming a Newsie by emailing [email protected] 

As we look toward 2023, we will continue on this path to innovate and elevate the ways you can consume our extraordinary local content and provide additional ways to help our partners prosper.   


*Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Statement of Ownership, October 2022

**Alliance for Audited Media, December 2019

 

author

Emily Walsh

Emily Walsh is the president of Observer Media Group and has served as publisher of the OMG’s Sarasota-based publications since 2016. She joined the company in 2001 as Black Tie photographer, later serving as editor of Black Tie and Arts + Entertainment, an advertising sales executive and chief digital officer.

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