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The iPad doesn’t set us up for a return to pre-Internet business models, argues Bradford Cross. The numbers on iPad magazine sales are not good, because old media want to keep the subscription model. “Now everyone is speculating, and it is finally sinking in that mobile devices are part of the Internet”, says Cross. “The iPad has been dubbed a revolutionary device and the journalism industry has raced to embrace it.  But their embrace is more of a desperate final grasp at the past.”

According to Hal Varian’s research for Google; about 40% of Internet users read news online.  Search is the largest driver of traffic to news sites.  According to comScore, clicks from search engines account for 35-40% of traffic to major U.S. news sites.

But Cross argues that most non-direct traffic for news now is coming from search, Facebook turns out to be the largest subscription source of news content on the Internet. As of the last numbers Cross found, Facebook accounted for 3.5% of traffic to news sites, compared with 1.4% coming from Google news, and a mere 0.01% coming from Google Reader.  These combine to be under 5% of traffic to news sites – still far below the 1/6 to 1/8 the traffic that search drives to news sites.  Facebook is also the top source of traffic to portals like Yahoo and MSN.

What does this mean for newspapers? Relevance should be an important priority, says Cross, and targeting the right audience should be on the toplist of all publishers. Read the complete article here.

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