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December 07 2011

21:41

The rise of local media sales partnerships and 19 other recent hyper-local developments you may have missed

In this guest post Ofcom’s Damian Radcliffe cross-publishes his latest presentation on developments in hyperlocal publishing for September-October, and highlights how partnerships are increasingly important for hyper-local, regional and national media in terms of “making it pay”.

When producing my latest bi-monthly update on hyper-local media, I was struck by the fact that media sales partnerships suddenly seem to be all the rage.

In a challenging economic climate, a number of media providers – both big and small – have recently come together to announce initiatives aimed at maximising economies of scale and potentially reducing overheads.

At a hyperlocal level, the launch on 1st November of the Chicago Independent Advertising Network (CIAN), saw 15 Chicago community news sites coming together to offer a single point of contact for advertisers. These sites “collectively serve more than 1 million page views each month.”

This initiative follows in the footsteps of other small scale advertising alliances including the Seattle Indie Ad Network and Boston Blogs.

These moves – bringing together a range of small scale location based websites – can help address concerns that hyper-local sites are not big enough (on their own) to unlock funding from large advertisers.

CIAN also aims to address a further hyper-local concern: that of sales skills. Rather than having a hyperlocal practitioner add media sales to an ever expanding list of duties, funding from the Chicago Community Trust and the Knight Community Information Challenge allows for a full-time salesperson.

Big Media is also getting in on this act.

In early November Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL agreed to sell each other’s unsold display ads. The move is a response to Google and Facebook’s increasing clout in this space.

Reuters reported that both Facebook and Google are expected to increase their share of online display advertising in the United States in 2011 by 9.3% and 16.3%.

In contrast, AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo are forecast to lose share, with Facebook expected to surpass Yahoo for the first time.

Similarly in the UK, DMGT’s Northcliffe Media, home to 113 regional newspapers, recently announced it was forging a joint partnership with Trinity Mirror’s regional sales house, AMRA.

This will create a commercial proposition encompassing over 260 titles, including nine of the UK’s 10 biggest regional paid-for titles. Like The Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL arrangement, this new partnership comes into effect in 2012.

These examples all offer opportunities for economies of scale for media outlets and potentially larger potential reach and impact for advertisers.  Given these benefits, I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see more of these types of partnership in the coming months and years.

Damian Radcliffe is writing in a personal capacity.

Other topics in his current hyperlocal slides  include Sky’s local pilot in NE England and research into the links between tablet useand local news consumption. As ever, feedback and suggestions for future editions are welcome.



 

November 29 2010

15:00

The Newsonomics of eight-percent reach

[Each week, our friend Ken Doctor — author of Newsonomics and longtime watcher of the business side of digital news — writes about the economics of the news business for the Lab.]

We’ll all familiar with the chaos of the moment. Publishers and broadcasters, readers and viewers, search giants and software midgets — they all see that we’re on the verge of the next news and information revolution, as the built-out Internet really begins to power human access to content on an array of digital devices, anytime, anywhere. But it’s not just the media dealing with that revolution. The same chaos of choice that alternatively delights and befuddles envelops businesses as well.

For old-fashioned sellers of newspaper space and broadcast time, it’s been a fitful education, and a reminder that merchants don’t want to buy advertising — they want to find customers, as cheaply and efficiently as possible. The First Amendment didn’t tie merchants to media in a constitutional permanence; it just seemed that way.

Marketing spend — email marketing, social media commerce, search engine marketing and optimization, building and operation of brands’ own websites, events and conferences, among others — is increasing worldwide, while “advertising” stagnates, and that’s due mainly to the increase in digital, increasingly measurable, marketing alternatives for businesses of all kind.

Yet, it’s also clear that we’re at the beginning of this digital marketing revolution, with two numbers convincing me we’re maybe not even a tenth of the way there. I’ll call that the Newsonomics of eight-percent reach, and explain those eight percent in a moment.

Consider first the big picture of marketing spend. Chuck Richard, a fellow information industry analyst at Outsell, has done work showing that marketing ad spend in the U.S. now totals $368 billion, of which 32.5 percent is going to digital and 30.3 percent to print.

It decreased at the rate of only 4.5 percent in the recession-wracked 2009, and should rise about 4.2 percent this year. Spending on advertising alone was down 8.5 percent in 2009 and is forecast to be down 0.8 percent in 2010.

So against those numbers, let’s look at a couple of numbers.

Google reaches about eight percent of the small businesses in the country, estimates Click Z’s Gregg Stewart. That’s 1.5-2 million businesses who use Google’s ad services, contributing to its $27 billion annual revenue run rate. As Stewart points out, Google advertising is a convenience for many harried smaller merchants:

Local businesses face a multitude of challenges daily; servicing customers, generating sales, meeting payroll, and in effect doing what they “do” for a living. Basically, they’ve got their hand in everything and this rarely allows for deep specialization in any one specific facet of their business. Local businesses do not have the time required to research keywords, monitor results, and modify bids and ad creative along with all the additional complexity that is associated with SEM.

Look at that eight percent another way, of course, and we see 92 percent upside, a big opportunity to help merchants make sense of the chaos. Google — along with Yahoo, Yelp, Yellow Pages companies, AOL, and Microsoft — have been plumbing this territory, and so have newspaper companies and a trio of hungry online marketing services companies.

Now Google is making a couple of aggressive moves. It has announced Boost. It’s a product that is built on top of its local listings and Google Maps. Boost — there’s an ironic ambiguity to the name, in that it is intended to boost Google’s revenue and boost some money out of the pockets of local media — adds the ability to put ratings and reviews in place-based ads, and they are sold on a pay-for-performance basis, unlike an earlier similar offering. The Boost test is going forward in more than a dozen cities.

Secondly, Marissa Mayer, Google’s long-time maestro of the search business, is now in charge of the local business. That’s another signal of what an opportunity Google sees in local business, online and on mobile.

How much of the local business market do you think metro newspapers reach? Eight percent, estimates Mike Sacks, VP for operations at Tribune. That’s a number, give or take a couple of points, I’ve heard from other publishers as well. While that total is likely higher for smaller-circulation dailies, its small size is a reflection of the old way of selling, pre-chaos.

Newspapers worked the biggest local merchants for big contracts, concentrating on getting a relatively small number of checks from a small number of deep-pockets advertisers. Now, those advertisers — the likes of Best Buy, Target, and Macy’s — are increasingly going direct to their customers and using all manner of social and engagement media to find and upsell customers (“The Newsonomics of online marketing“).

So, newspaper companies, including Gannett, Hearst, and Tribune, most prominently, are re-strategizing. If the dollars from that eight percent are only half what they were 10 years ago, then we’d better get some revenue from the other 92 percent, they’re saying. They’re doing that three main ways:

  • Retraining salesforces, and hiring more commissioned salespeople, to work the territories, selling not only space in their own papers and sites, but Yahoo inventory, Facebook placements, mobile messaging and more.
  • Telesales: Think “boiler room” lite; more salespeople calling more prospects.
  • Self-service: Sack’s Tribune is one of the companies using the Mediaspectrum platform to enable local merchants to place their own online or print ads. This Orlando Sentinel “Place an Ad” page shows what merchants can choose from. At the sister Sun-Sentinel, in Fort Lauderdale, Sacks says that more than a hundred new advertisers have been added in the year the service has been in place. “Every single cent is a new one…I’d like to see it grow ten-fold,” he says of the prospects of turning an experiment into a line of significant revenue. Sacks says average sized deals come in at about $1,000/$2,000 and also provide lead generation for upselling. Overall, Mediaspectrum’s self-service ad product is in place at almost 100 newspaper titles, including all of the Tribune’s papers (but not broadcast properties), UK’s Trinity Mirror chain, Morris Publications, the Columbus Dispatch, and the Washington Post. Most offer both online and print placements.

As we enter 2011, this new battle for local ad dollars is growing in strength, as merchants aim to make sense of the chaos of marketing choice. This exercise in chaos — and how sellers of marketing services do or don’t take advantage of it — affects more than just newspapers, of course. Locally, commercial broadcasters and Yellow Pages companies — the two other local media with substantial feet-on-the-street sales forces — are sensing the same opportunity to get to smaller businesses, as they, too, lose some of the bigger-business advertising they’ve long held.

Advertising agencies are in the midst of their own identity crises, as their value proposition to businesses is thrown into question, with the advances of pay-for-performance advertising and self-service overall.

The online-only players aren’t just the search giants. ReachLocal, Orange Soda, and Yodle are the companies you hear a lot about when you talk to local site general managers. They are all working the same turf, with ferocity. A recent visitor to the Yodle “sales pit” came away with the impression of “how well trained these guys are” and how their state-of-the-art customer relations management system qualified prospects well.

That 92-percent “open” market — maybe 23 million businesses — tells us how early we are in this digital marketing movement. Commerce change is one thing. For those who care about the news, the big thing to watch is whether those dollars, as they move digitally, move to companies that produce news, distribute news — or have nothing to do with news.

Photo by Leo Reynolds used under a Creative Commons license.

April 16 2010

09:04

Media Release: Birmingham Post launches sister title Birmingham Post Lite

As reported by The Business Desk West Midlands earlier this week, Trinity Mirror is launching a new freesheet as a sister paper to the paid-for Birmingham Post, which changed from a daily to weekly publication last year.

Birmingham Post Lite will be delivered to around 18,000 homes in the south Birmingham areas of Harborne and Moseley and will contain a selection of the Birmingham Post’s editorial content and material from its Post Property magazine, says a release.

The new newspaper will not carry the paid-for Post’s specialised business
and financial news. Instead it will combine south Birmingham news with the features and leisure content from the Post’s award-winning team.

The BusinessDesk (TBD) had the date pegged as April 22, but suggests the launch is a direct response to plans for a new rival title, the Birmingham Press, from newspaper entrepreneur Chris Bullivant.

“The title (…) is intended to go head-to-head with the Press in the battle to secure advertising from the city’s mid-market estate agents,” says TBD’s report.

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March 11 2010

10:27

February 25 2010

18:59

Regional online traffic compared; Johnston Press comes out top

I’ve had a little play with today’s Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic’s (ABCe) six-monthly multi-platform report for June – December 2009 and produced a few graphs.

Johnston Press was top of the traffic charts with 384,016 daily unique browsers – partly thanks to the Scotsman which attracted 86,694 daily browsers on average over the past six months. In second place for daily unique browsers (which ABCe now prioritises over monthly statistics as a better measure of site popularity) came Newsquest with 320,975 browsers. Closely behind, Trinity Mirror, which recorded 287,130. Of the bigger groups, it was Northcliffe in fourth position with 256,123. GMG saw the biggest drop-off overall when period-on-period monthly unique browser figures were compared: -17.8 per cent.

For the next multiplatform report, it could be all change: GMG regional titles will be part of Trinity Mirror, following the sale agreement earlier this month; and the effect of Johnston Press’ pay walls, launched in November may well have kicked in. They seem to have had a limited effect on this period’s statistics, but it’s worth noting that traffic had fallen for the Johnston Press network from 6,985,175 uniques in October to 6,161,875 in December 2009: down by over ten per cent in two months. Traffic had been dropping off since July, however, well before the pay walls were introduced and of course, the group has only rolled out the scheme over a few of its smaller sites so far.  Unfortunately, the trialled sites don’t feature in the individual site break-down.

This chart shows the period-on-period change for each newspaper group, June to end of December 2009. (ie. compared with the previous six months)

Unique daily browsers, by regional newspaper group:

GMG Regional Network

Trinity Mirror

Iliffe News & Media Ltd (note that the largest column is its entire network overall, which includes other sites as well)

Johnston Press

Newsquest

Midlands News

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December 17 2009

11:25

GMG Regional Media chief exec confirms talks without naming Trinity Mirror

This morning, we picked up news that Guardian Media Group was reported to be in talks with Trinity Mirror, over a possible sale of GMG Regional Media, which includes flagship title, the Manchester Evening News.

GMG Regional Media CEO, Mark Dodson, issued a statement to staff this morning in which he acknowledged talks with an unnamed party, but did not confirm Trinity Mirror’s involvement.

A statement is expected to be released to the media later today.

A MEN media staff member said: “If the rumours are true, then this is a huge blow for staff at the Manchester Evening News and the weekly titles.

“Staff have only just got over a series of redundancies, with more than 70 people losing their jobs.

“This is just another kick in the teeth for hard-working staff who have seen the Guardian bleed the regional titles dry over the last few years.

“The worst thing is that no-one has communicated with staff – we had to find out through How-Do, and although no-one has confirmed it is true, they are not denying it either.”

Another insider said: “A potential sale of the MEN / GMG Regional to Trinity Mirror has been the subject of much speculation for the best part of this year, if not before.”

Update: GMG has issued the following statement, which does not confirm the name of any parties:

“In line with its remit GMG keeps its portfolio under review on an ongoing basis.

“Since the publication of the Digital Britain report we have been considering the potential for further consolidation within the regional press sector, and as part of this there have been some exploratory talks regarding our regional media business.

“However these are at a very early stage and it is not clear whether they will progress or what the outcome is likely to be.”

Trinity Mirror declined to comment.

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09:17

How-Do: Could GMG sell Manchester Evening News to Trinity Mirror?

How-Do.co.uk exclusively reported this morning that Guardian Media Group (GMG)  is “believed to be in talks” to sell the Manchester Evening News to Trinity Mirror.

How-Do, the north-west based media site, has few details to date but promises more soon. It had not managed to obtain comment from either group. It reported:

It is being suggested that GMG Regional Media is to be sold off in a bid to save jobs and continue with the Scott Trust’s overarching objective of protecting the interests of national paper the Guardian.

A figure of £40m has been mooted for the sale, but, again, at the time of writing this could not be confirmed.

Full story at this link…

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December 02 2009

09:10

November 27 2009

08:36

Media Release: Tyne Tees and Borders for regional news consortia pilots

The Tyne Tees and Borders television region has been selected as the English pilot region for the Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNC) proposed by the government’s Digital Britain report.

Additional trials in Scotland and Wales will also take place and the tender process for all three pilots was opened yesterday.

Full release at this link…

Several local media groups have already outlined plans for IFNC bids. ITN has proposed a ‘grand alliance’ between local media groups.

Responding to the announcement of the English pilot region yesterday, John Hardie, ITN CEO, said in a statement:

“We’re excited to be joining forces with the talented staff who provide the current service in the Tyne Tees and Border region and in Wales to create the backbone of our bids for the pilots announced today. We are building a coalition with newspapers, radio and community groups to bring together the best in commercial journalism in each of the regions to offer a compelling multi-platform news service for viewers, listeners and readers.

“IFNCs provide an opportunity to re-invigorate local and regional newsgathering across broadcast, print and online and to ensure that there is an innovative and comprehensive alternative to the BBC. We look forward to playing a key role in this bright new future for local news.”

Trinity Mirror, Press Association and TV production company Ten Alps have announced a joint bid for the IFNC pilot.

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