Earlier this year, the American Press Institute (API) released its "Newspaper Next 2.0" report, a follow-up to its 1.0 report released in 2006. The original report focused on "discovering pragmatic and practicable ways for newspaper companies to create new growth." Though it was received well, the API found that not much progress was made by 2007, particularly in the area of monetizing the Web.
The findings and recommendations presented in the 2.0 report apply to newspapers and regional publications, which are suffering from similar challenges, as well as competition from well-entrenched Internet pure-play regional sites.
Viewing these recommendations from the ad-buying side is valuable. Could this lead to better advertising opportunities for us?
The report identifies these main revenue growth impediments:
How to Innovate
"Newspaper Next 2.0" did a nice job identifying, showcasing, and detailing innovators in the local Web space. Innovation can be categorized in a few ways:
What About Marketing?
Despite the innovation and lack of diverse online advertising opportunities, these Web-only entities present a challenge to media buyers: how are we to know they exist, particularly if we and our clients are located outside the region?
Too small to be found through ordinary media buying tools and resources, localized sites like these who want to attract both local and national advertisers need to step up their own outbound sales and marketing efforts. When the default for so many media buyers is a Google search, these regional sites fall woefully short in being found compared to their more SEO (define) savvy Internet pure-play competitors.
Robert Martinelli, CEO of Today Media Inc., publisher of four regional magazines and Web sites, markets its publications primarily through direct mail, telemarketing, radio, and trade print advertising. He acknowledges the challenge of better online marketing as well as maximizing the monetization of the company's sites.
Martinelli also made me aware of Godengo, a network of online city and regional magazines that looks very early stage from my media-buying perspective (i.e., needs improvement). RealCities, an online newspaper network, last week was acquired by Centro. MediaSpan Network and Internet Broadcasting System are other aggregators of local online media properties.
While regional media continue to figure out how to better monetize the Web, I would advise them to keep in mind ways to better reach their buyers. We do, after all, control some pretty decent purse strings.
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A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."
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