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Survey: Newspaper interest in on-line services is booming.

IN THE SOMETIMES faddish world of interactive newspapers, on-line services are the flavor of the month.

Interest in on-line services has boomed during the past year, according to the fifth annual study of information services offered by newspapers. The survey of all newspapers with circulations of more than 30,000 was conducted by the Kelsey Group, in connection with E&P, and was released during the recent "Interactive Newspapers '94: The Multimedia Mission" conference in Tampa Bay, Fla.

"On-line services, which were a weak sister last year, have grown in importance... and are perceived to have more potential than fax," Kelsey Group president John Kelsey III told conference attendees.

Using a 1-10 scale, newspapers rated their interest in on-line services at 6.2 -- significantly up from 4.6 last year.

The rating was second only to voice personals, which are proven moneymakers. Papers rated interest in voice personals at 6.4.

Newspapers also are convinced that on-line services will only get bigger. They say they expect their level of interest during the next year to rise to 7.2.

Interest also has grown in offering fax newspapers, the survey found. Newspapers rated their interest at 6.0 now and 6.6 a year from now. Last year, interest in fax newspapers was at 4.8.

Voice personals continue to dominate as newspapers' most successful interactive media application -- or, in cyberspace marketing slang, the "killer app."

"This is the fourth straight year voice personals had the highest rating in the survey, but never before has the gap [between personals and other applications] been so wide," Kelsey said.

"Voice personals have clearly become the killer application .... the winner, the formula for success. Voice personals work," he added.

On the 1-10 scale, newspapers gave voice personals a satisfaction rate of 9.1, the survey found. The closest application to that is caller-paid sports lines, which newspapers rated at 5.9.

Interest in interactive media as a whole continues to grow almost geometrically.

As of February, the survey said, about 2,700 newspapers offer some form of interactive media.

That compares with 1,200 two years ago -- and just 42 when the first "Interactive Newspapers" conference was held in 1989.

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Author:Fitzgerald, Mark
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Date:Mar 12, 1994
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