We are all aware of the commercial challenges facing the news media. They can be summarised in three short words: lack of growth.
So why not try to go where the growth is?
In 2012, Citygate was facing several major challenges:
Stagnation in digital ad revenue in the network.
Challenges in establishing the media house’s own digital product range.
An incomplete product portfolio.
A workforce lacking digital skills.
A mistrust in sales organisations of our networks’ traditional brands.
Citygate’s answer was to unite the majority of local news media groups in Sweden for a combined control of 80 traditional news brands across the country. This partnership would create joint Internet-driven platforms and brands for classifieds and directories, for all the news media involved.
It would address a need and opportunity for:
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with limited resources and a need for partners who can help them reach targeted local audiences.
Local news organisations, who have established sales channels and long-term relationships with local SMEs, as well as in-depth know-how of the local market, client needs, and preferences.
The news media groups were uniquely positioned to become the single trusted and top-of-mind local partner to guide SMEs in this complex and fragmented digital media environment.
Citygate products could be complemented with leading products in the portfolios of other news media sales forces around the country and distributed through this network. The goal was to reposition the local media house as a one-stop shop for local SME marketing needs.
This led us to move away from the traditional product-oriented position (i.e. selling inches of space in print) and move towards offering a complete online/offline marketing solution. Our strategic objectives were:
Recreate local growth through increasing revenue on a long-term basis with mix of online and offline, third-party and in-house advertising products.
Re-establish deep local relationships in SME with leading products such as Google, YouTube, and Facebook ads; and in-house display ads, online classifieds and directories, outdoor, video, and native.
Revitalise the internal organisations with know-how on leading products.
Transition to a solution model focused on conversion and client outcomes through changing culture, pricing, and sales methods.
Shake off internal mentalities such as, “An ad in our paper is all you need” or “They don’t understand digital.”
We put together a list of potential partners that could help us drive long-term growth in local digital advertising. At the top of that list was Google, with six local news media groups in the Citygate network becoming Google Premier Partners.
Another player on our list was Facebook. Because that company does not have an official partner programme, we focused our Facebook sales efforts on recruitment campaigns.
After these top two major players, we moved on to national and then regional potential advertising partners.
So what was the result of this strategy?
- Since starting to re-sell leading national advertising products, our digital advertising has had an average annual growth of 80% for the network as a whole.
- Up to 35% of total ad revenue is now based on other media channels than subscribed print newspaper.
- Our sales forces in the network now have a complete offering with a full range of Internet advertising services, including display, search, online catalogue and directories, video, and mobile; as well as in traditional media.
- We are able to offer a wide range of business relationships based on monthly services, conversion rates, and CPM (and various combinations of these). Thanks to the training and certifications programmes of our partners, we have an impressive network of certified experts in digital sales and digital campaign management.
All of this has allowed us to build on our local relationships and capitalise on an opportunity to guide small and medium businesses through the confusing digital media environment.