Can personalization save the newspaper? Niiu thinks so...

Niiu custom newspaper
A couple of times a year, I'll "indulge" and get myself an honest-to-goodness old-school printed copy of the Saturday Globe and Mail, and I'll sit pouring over it page by page until my coffee is cold and half my day has gone by. There's something almost quaint about spending my day that way, something reminiscent of slower times. And yes, it feels like an indulgence. The rest of the year, my news comes fast and furious from 24-hour news channels, my iGoogle dashboards, Feedly, Google reader and various other online sources.

In a recent episode of CBC's Spark, they interviewed Wanya Oberhof of Niiu -- an individualized daily. (Note: site is in German, but Google will kindly translate) And I thought, YES! This is the future of the newspaper!

Niiu is a custom newspaper delivered to your door at whatever frequency you wish. It contains a collage of custom user-selected content you pick from news sources around the world.

Think about that for a second: a custom newspaper.

Like the OpEd section of the New York Times? Done! The finance section of the Guardian? Done. How about some blog content or RSS feeds? Yup, throw those in too. Want your picture on the cover each and every day? Sure! And wrap it all up with a personalised "My News Daily" title? No problem.

You pick the content. You pick the frequency. Hell you even pick the template, colours and layout! It's custom made for you, by you.

Why aren't any of the bigwigs doing this? They are all trying to figure out how to get us to pay for online content, but unless they have some truly unique content, chances are we can find the same info somewhere else on the interwebs. As so many businesses move to offering personalization for their websites, this seems like a no brainer to save the newspaper industry.

But how would they make money? Let's face it, if they were really smart, they would use all of our custom selections to drive the advertising contained in the personalized paper: ads more likely to resonate with you based on the types of content you select for your own paper. How's that for value added? And then if I could also access my personal paper via some custom login when I'm on the road, (again another opportunity to put those custom ads in front of me), well, now we're really talking. Big media, you listening?

What do you think? Would you buy a custom newspaper? Do you see any difference between this and other content aggregator websites? Now that iPads are available is this a realistic option or just another step toward the death of the media giants? Leave a comment!