| NAA mediaXchange is the largest annual gathering of industry executives in North America, offering unprecedented networking opportunities that combine an exchange of information and ideas with programming designed to generate results. The conference is designed to provide valuable ideas and insights to help newspaper professionals grow audience and revenue for their print and digital products. Sessions highlight leading-edge thinking about media strategies, successes in product and revenue development, new ideas and innovation inside and outside the industry, and tactics and techniques to employ in print and digital.
March 2009 - Posts
Lee Abrams, chief innovation officer for Tribune Co., urged newspapers to have "a little swagger."
the closing session, Abrams spoke with Barbara Cohen, president of
Kannon Consulting, about the redesign of the Tribune Co. newspapers and
how it became an impetus for making other changes in the company.
"Some newspapers torture themselves by doing things incrementally," he said.
said Tribune redesigned the papers to get it done—"some have redesigned
so subtly, it doesn't get noticed"—to catch up—"we should have done this
20 years ago"—-and to fight back.
"There is a media war that didn't exist 20 or 30 years ago," Abrams said.
media doesn't have a lock hold on innovation, he said. "My thought is
that if our core product had 10 percent of the attitude toward
innovation as the Web, we would be better off."
there are many smart, passionate and committed people in the industry.
"The open minded ones will take it the next level. It's a matter of
identifying and liberating them," he said.
Tribune plans to
give its redesigned papers a year before judging their success on
circulation and advertising as well as cost savings.
"As great as technology is," Abrams said, "there is something magical and timeless about a newspaper."
The mediaXchange conference was a fitting venue for NAA President and CEO John F. Sturm to discuss the value of newspapers. In an Op-Ed that appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal today, Sturm pointed out that digital revenues have already become an important part of newspapers' sustaining business model and that the newspaper print product attracts more than 105 million readers each day.
The piece is available at http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/41077962.html.
A good summary of the current trends in online classified advertising, with a look five years into the future from Larry Shaw, director of client research with Borrell Associates, during an afternoon session on redefining classifieds. Check out his presentation here.
Bill Ostendorf, president of Creative Circle Media Consulting, followed with a spirited description of some new revenue ideas for classifieds targeting advertisers outside the traditional big three of auto, real estate and recruitment. A sampling: take advantage of the niche audiences a print newspaper already has by virtue of its various sections—sports, food, entertainment, etc.—and place classified ads targeting these niches in these sections (The Idaho Statesman in Boise began doing this in the past month in some sections, following a redesign with the help of Ostendorf’s company.) Think of all the small local businesses involved in the food category that would love to be able to reach readers of your newspaper’s food section, Ostendorf said. “Small businesses are out there dying to reach their local markets.”
More good ideas from Tony Lee, chief alliance officer with Adicio, including several best practices that some newspapers already are using in their markets.
A quick rundown of three of these: allow other Web sites to run your “Top Job” listings through revenue-sharing partnerships, which can drive traffic back to your site (10 to 20 percent jumps in traffic to a newspaper's job database are typical, Lee said) and boost revenue; scrap job listings from the Web sites of local companies in your market that post their openings online; and expand beyond car ads online to local RV, classic car, boat and motorcycle ads—and allow users to post their own ads in these categories, creating a community. For more of Lee’s ideas, check out his presentation.
Management shouldn't assume that just because they have a union contract they can't subcontract work, labor law attorney David Durham said during an afternoon session on outsourcing.
"They think that all they can do is take baby steps," said Durham, an attorney at Littler Mendelson. They think they can only bargain for a 10 percent wage cut or to eliminate the 401 (k) matching contributions. "But that is not going to save the newspaper," he said.
Subcontracting cannot be done for anti-union reasons, Durham cautioned. But it can be done because if it makes business sense. "Most of the time in today's workplace, you are doing it for a fundamental business decision," he said.
NAA.org has integrated a new functionality, which highlights specific, custom-selected terms on various pages throughout the NAA Web site, allowing users to click on specified words or phrases - such as revenue growth or audience development - to see more on that topic.
Clicking a linked topic term will navigate to a topics page, displaying related content such as more NAA articles and NAA Community content, as well as books, videos, photos and articles from other areas of the Web. Users can visit the following examples from each integrated area of the Web site to see this new functionality in action:
Lingospot announced the launch of the program, which was created specifically for NAA member newspapers. The Sacramento Bee is the first newspaper to take advantage of this special offering. An example of a Lingospot Topic Portal can be found by clicking on one of the highlighted links here: http://www.sacbee.com/827/story/1684942.html
NAA member newspapers can sign up for the Lingospot Topic Portal program by visiting www.lingospot.com/naa and signing up with their company email address. The signup process has three easy steps, after which newspapers will be able to launch topic pages on their sites.
Circulation departments face greater pressure to generate more revenue as ad revenues have declined. During a morning session, three speakers shared ways to grow circulation revenues and reduce expenses. In recent years, USA Today took a closer look at its circulation revenue and compared it with circulation expenses. Larry Lindquist, senior vice president of circulation for USA Today, said the analysis has helped the newspaper reduce its losses per copy each year since 2006 by increasing revenue through its different sales channels and by reducing expenses. (One example: not picking up returns from some retailers.)
Spin-off publications, including Sports Weekly, and special editions, such as two related to President Barack Obama and the final season of Yankee Stadium in New York City, also have helped generate additional revenue. “We found out that passion is what sells the publications,” Lindquist said.
At The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, the development of a successful paid opt-in program for the newspaper’s TV book tabloid last year has gotten the paper thinking about similar opportunities. One possibility: starting a weekly paid publication featuring stock listings, distributed using the same subscription model, according to Mark Quan, the Pilot’s circulation director. New subscription pricing packages that include other newspapers also are being considered, Quan said.
Dan Schaub closed the session with some details about The Sacramento Bee. Chief among them was an effort to focus, both internally and externally, on audience rather then paid circulation when describing the reach of the Bee and its related products. While there’s still debate about the best way to precisely measure online audience, newspaper companies can’t afford to wait until the Interactive Advertising Bureau and others refine the metrics, said Schaub, senior vice president of audience development & membership services. “We’ve got to go tell the story today.”
The newspaper also has refined its home delivery pricing and subscription offers by giving customers more choices, by targeting offers to specific households and by developing a new offer aimed at chronic churners. “One size doesn’t fit all, that’s the takeaway,” Schaub said. Other successes: higher prices for Thanksgiving single-copies and joint distribution agreements with other newspapers.
Bill Ostendorf, president of Creative Circle Media Consulting (Booth 1237), and Sean Ammirati, CEO and co-founder of mSpoke, stressed the importance of data and design during the "Better, Faster, More Profitable!" session.
"If you can become a data-driven organization and measure and test Web experiences, you can end up with compelling Web experiences," Ammirati said.
Ammirati advised attendees to investigate and use A/B testing. "Basically, you take a percentage of your traffic and give them slightly different Web templates and see how it changes how [users] interact with your Web content."
Ostendorf, who has redesigned print newspapers and Web sites, criticized newspapers for trying to pack too much information on their sites and for running pictures too small.
"People are going into hock to buy 60-inch Sonys," he said. Make the pictures bigger, he added. "Do you ever say, ‘I wish I had a smaller computer monitor?' "
Take a "less is more" attitude, Ostendorf said. "We don't put everything on page one in the print newspaper."
Both speakers stressed the Web's growing role in social networking. "Be a community," Ostendorf said. "Be my community."
--Rebecca Ross Albers, PRESSTIME Editor
Following up on an earlier blog post about newspapers using self-service advertising tools from companies at mediaXchange this year, I had the chance to speak with two additional companies in this space today: MultiAd (Booth 2037) and AdLizard (Booth 1723).
AdLizard’s new Web 123 product, the fruit of a partnership with sister company Qmecom, walks advertisers through creating their online ads using a Web-based interface, from choosing among ad templates, to customizing ads with the advertiser’s own images and text, previewing the ads and designing multiple ads for a single campaign. Depending on a particular publisher’s online targeting capabilities, the platform also allows users to select various targeting options for their ads.
Next, advertisers can view estimates of the impressions and clicks their ads will generate based on their budget for a particular ad campaign. “We’re trying to give them this info up front,” Aran Rhee, a solutions manager with Qmecom. Web 123 also provides updated reporting once the campaign starts. The company has non-disclosure agreements with several newspaper publishers that are beginning to use the product, Rhee says.
MultiAd’s new SpeedyAd product builds on its existing offering, Revolution, which allows real estate and other advertisers to create their own print ads through an online interface. The company is taking the Web-based and hosted platform and extending it to print private-party classified and display advertisers with SpeedyAd, which allows advertisers to choose different ad templates, input their own text, view previews of their ads, choose which days ads will run and pay online with a credit card.
The target customers for SpeedyAd are smaller dailies and weekly papers, according to Brian Dickerson, vice president of operations for MultiAd. Several weeklies owned by GateHouse Media Inc. in Peoria, Ill., are using the product now on a trial basis, he said.
Press and post-press manufacturers at NAA mediaXchange remain optimistic despite the recession.
are in a transition period," said Thomas S. Stuart, vice president of
sales for WIFAG (Booth 929). "Newspapers are evaluating their business
and seeing what they need to do." But, he said, things will stabilize
and newspapers will rebound.
WIFAG is currently installing its
evolution 371 press at the Naples (Fla.) Daily News. The press will be
able to print a wide range of sizes, from 18 to 36 inches, he said,
allowing the company to print more varied products. The press is
expected to be online by the fall, he added.
Systems (Booth 1641) just started installing the post-press equipment
at the Naples Daily News, said Dan Kemper, president. Meanwhile, he
said, Schur is actively investigating what other industries might be
interested in its palletizing equipment to help sustain Schur while the
newspaper industry is in transition.
"It's a tough year," said
Mike Shafer, director of sales and marketing for TKS (Booth 1301). "We
are looking forward to when customers unleash their pent-up demand for
buying new products." With many newspapers consolidating or outsourcing
their printing, Shafer said he anticipates companies that are printing
more than one newspaper will eventually look into hybrid printing,
additional color and retooled presses. TKS just installed new towers on
an existing TKS press at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Shafer said.
that invested in equipment before 2008 are in the best position to take
on printing and finishing work for other newspapers, said Gary Owen,
vice president of sales/mailroom systems for Muller Martini. Owen said
he expects that fewer newspapers will have their own printing and
post-press equipment and there will be more regional printing centers
in the future. Southwest Offset Printing, which publishes several
newspapers including The New York Times and The Financial Times,
recently purchased a third Muller Martini SLS3000 inserting line.
more newspapers consolidate their printing operations, Manugraph DGM
Inc. (Booth 2301) has helped to liquidate several plants and
reconfigure and reinstall equipment, said Dave Moreland, vice president
of sales and marketing. "It's a way to help our customers and move
equipment," he said.
Manugraph recently added a folder and two
towers to the press at the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa, which will be
printing The Idaho Statesman in Boise. Manugraph also installed a DGM
440 at the Skagit (Wash.) Valley Herald, which will be printing The
Eric Frank, vice president of corporate
marketing at KBA North America Inc. (Booth 1547), said his company is
working more with the production and finance departments at newspapers
to help justify buying presses. KBA just completed an installation at
the Reading (Pa.) Eagle and will begin to install a Commander CT at the
Daily News in New York City in July.
Speakers at an afternoon session offered three very different examples
of how their newspaper companies reposition its organization's
In 2007, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel began
examining its revenues and structure. "We found we had a lot of issues
with our traditional structure," said Hugh McGarry, senior vice
president of sales and marketing. "We found redundant systems,
functions and processes."
One of the ways the paper has broken
down silos is with a weekly forecasting meeting every Thursday with
revenue managers for advertising, commercial printing, delivery and
circulation. The weekly cross-departmental meeting has helped the paper
to hit its forecast. "If you know that classified will be off by
$25,000 or $30,000, maybe the circulation person can cover it," McGarry
The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville realigned its
traditional marketing department to focus on revenue and audience
growth. Marketing staff had been part of circulation and advertising,
said Amy McSwain, director of marketing and audience development, but
that arrangement created real and perceived conflicting priorities.
each marketing employee is a brand manager and responsible for several
products and departments, creating a larger sense of ownership for each
employee, she said.
Last year, Ottaway Newspaper Inc. adopted
revenue driven strategies in circulation and operations. Now, all of
Ottaway's goals in circulation and production are driven by earnings
before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, said Don
Waterman, senior vice president of print and distribution.
bring in new revenue, Ottaway has focused on delivering and printing
other newspapers' products, Waterman said. Ottaway now delivers 36
publications, bringing in $4.4 million in revenue, he said. "If we
delivered every paper in our markets, we'd be getting $29 million in
revenue," he added.
On the commercial printing side, Ottaway
has nine new print contracts. The company prints for nearly 50 clients
and brings in $3.1 million annually, Waterman said.
It's a fact that everyone loves a good contest, and newspapers are getting into the game by sponsoring contests targeting everyone from doting parents to proud pet owners.
At the NAA session, "Link, Search, Play," July Foley of the Statesboro (Ga.) Herald said contests are increasingly driving online engagement at her smaller-market paper and, depending on the subject, are helping the Herald attract new advertisers seeking to reach a target audience. One contest for the "cutest kid" brought in $10,000 revenue from advertisers targeting parents in just under four weeks, according to Foley. Dogs also are a draw for online engagement. Robin Gray of the Orange County Register described a "cutest dog" competition at her paper that brought in seven million page views to the paper's site and thousands in ad revenue.
Another method to drive online engagement is to follow what Boston.com's Bob Kempf calls his paper's "Holy Grail," or "grow local reach." The challenge, says Kempf, is to "create a sustainable local product that complements the core site." Boston.com has created a network of hyperlocal sites that are increasing community reach and engagement. Their geographic reach offers targeted ad opportunities as well, and features elements that include original reporting, news about local events, features for user generated content, personalization and a Wiki. The sites are integrated into Boston.com.
And speaking of aggregation, Jay Small of Scripps said that "link journalism" is a must for increasing online engagement. Small described link journalism as a way to embark on new forms of story telling by "curating content" on the Web. Journalists will spend time gathering the best links on the Web that relate to a particular story and post those links on their page to provide context to the story. That page will then serve as "the destination page" for users. "Is it journalism? Heck yeah!" Small said. "Journalists play the role of filtering information and link journalism is about giving readers the opportunity to engage with the most useful information out there."
- Sheila Owens
At Tuesday's general session, two newspaper executives from very different markets described the aggressive and controversial steps they are taking to position their companies for the future.
Dave Hunke, CEO of the Detroit Media Partnership and publisher of the Detroit Free Press, outlined the hybrid print and digital model the Detroit newspapers are adopting (http://www.detroitmedia.com/transform/faq-gen.php).
"We can view these times as suffocating or liberating," Hunke said. "We cannot sit here and hope that business will get a little bit better."
Hunke described the consumer research the partnership did to prepare for this bold step. "A lot of people may view Detroit's program as a Hail Mary cost-cutting exercise. For 16 months, we've pored ourselves into newspaper redesign and research with customers."
Besides offering a digital replica edition, the partnership is partnering with Plastic Logic (www.plasticlogic.com) to explore a mass lease program of its e-reader, Hunke said.
While the e-reader is not yet available, Hunke said he expects to have 100 by March 30, and within eight months to initiate a mass lease program in the Detroit market.
Don't be afraid of digital solutions, he said. "We're putting it all on the line to function in that environment."
Chuck Peters, president and CEO of Gazette Communications in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, described how his company is leveraging social media. "We have to be able to play in social media," Peters said. "That is where the world is going. We have to adjust."
Making it easier for people to engage in their communities is the goal, Peters said. And finding people who can carry out that mission is critical for his company and others to move forward.
Before Hunke and Peters spoke to attendees, consultant Jim Chisholm gave a summary of a recent NAA report, Opportunities Out of Adversity: Re-Positioning for Future Growth (www.naa.org/financialmodel). Chisholm recommended that U.S. publishers raise their prices.
"American newspapers are the cheapest in the world," he said. "That has to stop."
People will continue to pay for quality news in print, Chisholm said, but he agreed with Hunke's plans for Detroit and said people may not want to pay for the print newspaper seven days a week.
--Rebecca Ross Albers, PRESSTIME Editor
Starting a new niche magazine generates a host of questions. What is the target audience? How many pages is it going to be? How often will it publish? What will the distribution be? What will the ad rate be? What kind of paper will it use?
At an afternoon session, Peter Vandevanter, vice president of targeted products for MediaNews Group Inc., demonstrated a proprietary tool his company developed in-house to help publishers answer these questions as they consider new niche pubs in the company’ local markets. Known as the Wizard, the template draws on the experiences of existing and successful niche magazines in MediaNews markets. Consider it a “soup to nuts” tool, Vandevanter said.
Using a spreadsheet interface, users select a target audience from a group of 25 potential groups, ranging from foodies to animal lovers to athletes. They then input various data points, including distribution, ad rates, page lengths, launch date and production costs. The template then crunches these numbers to show projected expenses, revenues, profit, margins and even a timeline for the development process—which also are compared to a “best practice” existing niche publication targeting the same audience in a MediaNews market. “It gives you the economics of anything you want to pursue,” Vandevanter said.
Other interesting tidbits from Vandevanter’s presentation: Free distribution allows publishers to tailor a niche publication’s audience to the customers an advertiser wants to reach to a degree that traditional subscriptions don’t allow; once considered a negative by advertisers, the longer shelf life of niche publications, be it a week or a month, is now valued by advertisers in world of shorter attention spans and short-lived Internet advertising; and lastly, don’t underestimate how long it will take to start a niche publication.
A lot of maximizing online ad revenue comes down to yield management, a complex science (not an art form!) combining inventory management, efficiency, sales, the newspaper value proposition and more.
At "Managing to Maximize Your Online Ad Inventory," moderator David Knight (digital sales executive for The New York Times Regional News Group) outlined just some of the challenges newspapers are facing in this area. Among them: Slowing online sales (thanks, economy!); more content pages, which can effectively decrease CPMs; and generally monetizing ad inventory in light of an increase in search, pure plays getting "local" and more.
The following are some of the key points from panelists Ian Owen-Ward, vice president of digital development for the Newspaper National Network; JT Batson, vice president of publisher communities for The Rubicon Project; and David Teitler, CEO of BlackBox Media:
Batson suggested working on figuring out your actual CPM - revenue across all impressions - before moving into your assessment of what (and how) all your ad types are being sold. Map it out, and treat inventory management like you're managing widgets - don't just manage your sales team!
Look at ad networks as a partner, and work to stabilize your ad network CPMs. Also, your networks should generally be blind.
In terms of "cutting" the number of ads on a page: "If you see a site that looks like a pinball machine, I would generally say to take those ads down," Teitler said. The most effective sites have 2 - 3 ads per page. Teitler is an advocate for limiting the number of ads, because too many ads can lead to a significant drop in ROI.
Remain nimble! Keep yourself open to what advertisers are saying and respond accordingly.
"You've got some of the best inventory out there, so be confident in what you're selling," Batson said.
Note: Several of these topics are covered in NAA's Digital Media Advertising Toolkit, which was released last month. Go to www.naa.org/adtoolkit for more!
The second general session of NAA mediaXchange 2009 features discussion on Future Business Models. Speakers include:
Jim Chisholm, Principal, iMedia Advisory Services Ltd
David Hunke, CEO, Detroit Media Partnership & Publisher, Detroit Free Press
The session begins at 1 p.m. PDT. Participate LIVE by adding your comments below:
More Posts Next page »