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Is the programmatic revolution over?

26 December 2016 · By Wayne Morgan

Is programmatic advertising a boring phrase now — another digital flash in the pan and yet another distraction for publishers?

Back in August 2015, I wrote about the potential benefits afforded to regional publishers as a result of programmatic advertising. I touched on our ability to compete, at a local level and in person, with the big boys.

Programmatic may not be making headlines anymore, but it remains a viable opportunity for advertisers.

Back then, I wrote about the basics, the role of data, the technology stack, and the increasing competition in the local marketplace. None of that has changed: Publishers are still working on their data plans, the tech stack is still evolving, and local penetration is still rather low.

A lot can happen in 15 months. However, one thing is for certain. Advertisers who are exposed to programmatic advertising for the first time are fascinated by the opportunity it presents.

I’ve spoken to many SMEs about Archant’s programmatic proposition, GoTarget Display, and have been surprised at how many already understand targeted advertising — be it social, search, or display.

The thing that really stands out, though, and the big opportunity for regional media is they haven’t had a serious conversation face-to-face with a human about the best way to go about it. They haven’t had a consultation about their needs and how programmatic advertising can help solve them.

We are able to fill that void, the gap in the market.

It’s evident that customer retention is a challenge for most publishers. The fragmentation of the digital advertising landscape naturally results in businesses “trying” new things.

Our programmatic solution is starting to drive that for us. We are having conversations about the longer-term benefits of strategically planned media campaigns, working with advertisers’ digital assets to drive the return they need.

One problem publishers have suffered over the last 20 years is “shiny new toy syndrome.” When new digital platforms, ideas, and opportunities come along all the time, it can prevent any real traction to material, core, growth, and sustainable sources of income.

Publishers are bombarded with the message they must diversify their revenues to remain relevant. But this can be distracting — throw too much mud at a wall and eventually the mud that sticks is hidden by fresh mud.

Our regional magazine business has a good display business, with lots of engaged sales people selling good and engaging campaigns across our portfolio. The question is will programmatic advertising simply cannibalise what we already have and leave us treading water again?

So far, the opposite has been true. It has taken us only two months to build an outbound programmatic revenue stream larger than our traditional direct revenue, which took 20 years to build. As a result, our display business has increased exponentially, series bookings have increased, and conversations with customers have become deeper than ever.

But, and here is the most important bit, our advertisers genuinely trusted and learned from us, and they are thankful for it.

Who knows? Programmatic may still be another fad, but as national advertisers turn increasingly to a purely programmatic environment, the lag to SMEs will surely follow that trend.






Data highlights generational differences for advertisers

14 December 2016 · By Darrell Kunken

As we are always focused on the audience segment(s) most important to our business clients, sometimes it is useful to start with a broad view of how all consumers are interacting with a certain category of business.

A high-level view can be a great beginning to an insightful and meaningful discussion.

Sometimes an easy way to provide insights for our client audience (even internal staff education) is to look at generations, segmented across a category of business or merchandise purchased.

This can be accomplished by simply using a research study like Nielsen/Scarborough to create variables by grouping age segments together that reflect the generations. Again, the purpose is to be able to quickly see what differences exist in generations’ adoption of technology, product buying, or participating in lifestyle activities.

Some examples:

How people adopt, buy, and use technology along their path-to-purchase is important to understand and sometimes difficult to clearly get across. A chart like this one can help. One can quickly see that local smartphone penetration is highest amongst Millennials and Gen X, while desktop penetration remains highest with older Baby Boomers. And laptops/notebooks reign with older Millennials and Gen X.

Younger people are much more likely to own smartphones and tablets.

The chart below illustrates how Millennials are currently the heaviest app users when seeking auto information, yet it’s the young Baby Boomers to the seniors who are buying more cars. This view sets up a great conversation about developing the right media mix and the need to be omni-channel today.

Younger generations use apps to research cars, but Baby Boomers and seniors are more likely to buy them.

Another look shows who is buying new or leased vehicles versus used vehicles. In the next chart, younger Millennials index highest for buying used vehicles.

Millennials are more likely to buy used vehicles.

Take a look at shopping and buying by generation. It can help you visualise the market segments that are important to focus on most and develop a plan to cover those segments that will be most valuable to your business.

The same views easily illustrate what generations are participating most in things like hiking, biking, outdoor grilling, gardening, soccer, or golf. Lifestyle activity participation adds to the picture of the target you are going to be marketing to.

The view below helps to illustrate how generations are utilising key marketing channels that we can offer most direct exposure through or management and optimisation of. It’s pretty easy to see print utilisation is from Baby Boomers to seniors and the digital channel involvement is across the younger generations.

Views like these can help us explain how generations are utilising various media channels.
Media companies need to understand how different generations use various channels.

With the speed of change today, driven by access to new technologies and information, it is truly an exciting time to be in this business. It is challenging and rewarding to figure out what is best for our clients. Constantly remaining a student of the game, we can illustrate what is happening and who is impacting change.






If they leave just after the game kicks off, can you call it an audience?

11 December 2016 · By Wayne Morgan

In publishing, we talk about audience all the time. And, quite right, as we are part of the creative media sector. People consume our content in great numbers.

In print, the model is well-established, albeit full of assumptions. But, we put a newspaper product together, print thousands, and distribute through pick-up points or directly to the reader. And then we make an assumption that the combined total is “our audience.”

Media companies need to be aware of how an audience is responding throughout an entire engagement period.

We don’t know how many pages they read, if they read it all. They might even pass it on to someone else and so on. These are the assumptions. This is a perfectly valid assumption, but it is under some duress from other sources of audience at present.

We (print media publishers) take the same model online and talk about it a similar way, and it’s catching us out.

A collection of unique users is not an audience, but you already know that. (If you’re a media professional and don’t know exactly what a unique user is, please stop reading this now. It’s 2016; you’re reading the wrong article.) Yet, we continue to use it as such. It’s weird. Page impressions, sessions, and inventory are all cumulative, and, in isolation, rather useless at being representative of audience.

We look at the number of people who turn up and don’t work hard enough to check to see if they are watching.

Imagine this: You go to see an English Premier football match. It’s Southampton FC (proper team) versus Manchester United, the stadium is packed, the noise is electric, and the audience is involved in the match to the end. They even influence the content and therefore the outcome of the game – the audience.

In the publishing world, online, the ref blows the whistle, the match kicks off, and everyone leaves before the end of the first minute — WTF?

I want you to think about the advertising boards around the pitch. Not so long ago, these boards were static and painted/printed. Now they are electric and change the creative frequently during the match; half the pitch is even targeting the people not at the stadium but those watching on television. The content (the game) is able to engage its viewers long enough to distribute advertising messages to everyone watching — the audience.

Our news Web sites are incredibly similar. The ad slots are capable of message change. But the problem is our users aren’t there long enough for us to have an impact. I’m not sure that constitutes as an audience.

Our job in advertising is to distribute the message to all of the people our customer has requested — preferably targeting the right user to start with. It’s unlikely an advertiser can even afford to target our entire audience, so they and we need to compartmentalise accordingly and ensure we can engage with them.

The media landscape continues and will continue to fragment. National press has different challenges than regional press, and the same goes for opportunities.

If you haven’t started to look at your user base (please don’t call it an audience; at least you’re being “used” — sounds awful doesn’t it?), identified who they are and what their interests are to reach them on behalf of your advertiser, wherever they are, how can you possibly get to the final whistle?

Leicester City FC currently has the largest audience in its long history. Its content has recently been, and still is, wonderfully engaging. It is not a team of individual stars; it has pulled together and worked as a team with one plan to reach one goal.

Audience growth in publishing has to come from every part of a publisher’s business. It can’t be done by just one group, and it certainly isn’t just the job of editorial (says the ad guy).

The one thing that every player in Leicester City FC has in common is they all know how and in which direction to kick the bloody ball.






What does digital investment really mean for media?

06 November 2016 · By Wayne Morgan

Like many of you, I am currently finalising plans — and the requirements to achieve those plans — for the coming year.

During this process, naturally, I have been talking a lot about people — our people, my colleagues — at Archant, whom, collectively, will deliver our plan for 2017.

I have also been talking to other publishers about the same thing: their focuses, approaches, and, of course, seeking opportunities.

Investment in digital requires actual engagement on behalf of those who pledge investment.

But, in 2016, I am still shocked — actually, no I’m not, I’m baffled — at the lack of engagement from the majority of people who work within our industry.

I have heard it time and time again about digital transformation: We need to change, and digital has to be a bigger priority.

Why? We know why. Our industry is under some duress at the moment with regard to circulation and ad revenues due to the massive fragmentation of the markets we serve. Add to that our printed platforms are competing with an ever-increasing volume of solutions and competitors.

So, ever so naturally, we say, we need to transform.

I did sell print advertising prior to my current position, but I’ve been working in pure digital media for a little while now and I love it. My job is my hobby. I feel fortunate to have found it, and, quite frankly, it’s absolutely fascinating and bloody good fun.

I am personally “invested” in digital. I couldn’t get away from it if I tried. It’s who I am, not just what I do. The same goes for any interest: golfers, chefs, fitness fanatics, pilots, movie stars, and even gamblers. They are personally invested; it’s who they are.

I think you can see where I am going here: Digital transformation is not going to possible for everyone; they just don’t care enough. Sorry, that’s not fair at all. I retract that. They do care, greatly, but they are not personally invested in digital, therefore it’s not front of mind, in their DNA, a part of who they are.

Some of you reading this will know you are not personally invested in digital either, yet you will most certainly tell people you are. That’s not sustainable, is it?

Now, of course, my statement may somewhat annoy you, but that’s fine, because you won’t “out” yourself. And to the rest of you to whom this statement doesn’t apply, you’ll be nodding along with me in agreement. Is that a paradox?

The time is now. The opportunity with targeted display and content products is maturing. We are finally being regarded as genuinely trustworthy in a distrusting environment, and we do actually have more people invested in digital.

This year has been a good year at Archant for digital and digital transformation. I have more colleagues who I can “talk” to than I’ve ever had before, and we have been doing some really good things. Well, that is handy timing and not a coincidence.

Everyone has to get involved, though. Think back to your time at university or college. You would revise, revise, and revise again for your exam. Why? Because you believed, rightly, that working hard to better yourself would pay off for your career.

Why, then, when people start to work do they not do that? Why do they not put in the effort or go the extra mile for their own success? Is that another paradox? To be honest, I am not sure what a paradox is. Is that, in itself, another paradox? (Sorry.)

Invest is a good word. If you invest in a business venture or stock, you won’t get a return unless you actually put something in.

Same with digital knowledge: Those people who just say they are “digital” without having personally invested time and effort into it won’t get anything out of it. If they don’t, is it a good idea to wait and see what happens? Because we already know, nothing will happen.

For successful transformation, investing in people is still the answer, but they need to invest, too. Oh, and if this post does annoy you, have a word with yourself.






Value of traditional TV commercials is changing

19 October 2016 · By Darrell Kunken

The pace of change is impacting all media and promotion. The way to win is to stay up on the trends and show how you remain a valuable conduit between the buyer and advertiser.

A large part of the competition for our share of marketing ad dollars today rests on tracking and proving ROI like never before.

People are increasingly engaging in device use while watching television.

I believe in advertising because, when smartly used, it can drive sales.

I’m not dissing any advertising channel. But I do feel it’s time to question when I see the large amount of television spending by certain accounts that don’t have an understanding of the ROI. Especially when you look at the trends.

People are spending less time viewing television than they used to, and they are watching fewer channels than they used to.

With more than eight in 10 U.S. Internet users regularly using the Internet while watching television, advertisers are challenged with a new trend. While people may have the TV on, are they really watching it? Are they seeing the commercials? Are they comprehending the messages?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Simultaneous Internet and TV use is being driven by increasing device penetration and widespread access to high-speed Internet.
  • Smartphones are the most popular device being used alongside the TV.
  • The majority of second-screen activity is not related to anything going on on the TV, according to eMarketer.

Did you know that Google says 84% of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices as a second screen while they watch TV?

Traditional TV viewing habits are drastically changing.

And a Deloitte November 2015 study found the most common activities conducted while watching TV were browsing and surfing the Web, followed by using a social network and reading e-mails.

With only 8% of respondents saying they did nothing else except watch TV while engaged in that activity (according to eMarketer), it begs the question, what is commercial recall like today?

The value equations are changing.






The reality of Virtual, Augmented Reality for news media companies

26 September 2016 · By Wayne Morgan

The world of Virtual Reality is about to get very exciting, especially for the video game industry. It has a clear and recognisable opportunity, which has been prophesied for years. The creation of an immersive 360-degree environment that you can physically engage with? People will pay for that.

What about other publishers, though? Particularly news publishers?

Before we explore that, we need to understand the difference between the realities: Virtual, Augmented, and … reality?

Publishers are started to experiment with Virtual and Augmented Reality, but it is unclear whether there is a true payoff.

VR is created with the user engaging with it from start to finish. That is, the user knows and has decided he is going to use it and will spend 100% of that duration of time engaging with the VR. This is likely to take the form of a headset, which you can acquire for smartphones now for a very low cost.

The next stage will be interaction. Those of you that have sent your Wii controller smashing though your TV will know how accurate and engaging that can be.

Add the two together with a good game and you have instant fun. All that’s left is to create a safe space in your home, devoid of sharp objects.

Augmented Reality is far less immersive. This “reality” requires you to use a smart device (phone or tablet) to engage with “real” world things and places. A billboard poster can act as a trigger, for example. Point your phone at it and it comes alive or plays a video.

I have worked with some AR companies that work with book publishers, especially in creating educational materials for children. They can point their tablet at a T Rex and up pops a remote-controllable T Rex.

My 6-year old daughter loved the fairy book, and she managed to make the fairy fly on my device. It was incredibly engaging and led her to say, “I really wish it was real.” She read the book and augmented her experience with a tablet. It was a success — she’s happy, her parents (me) are happy, and the publisher is happy.

What about us, though? News publishers can be, and probably are, inundated with ideas and opportunities. Our print products have to compete harder, and digital is both growing and taking market share. We need to be more relevant than ever, and we need to try new things to find our groove.

I can see a sci-fi novel/movie in which the news service of the day places you at the scene, using VR, of course. That’s fiction for you. Triggering a video taken at the scene from a photograph in a newspaper via a smart device — you can do that today.

The reality here, though, is that by the time you have used your AR app to scan the newspaper, you’ve already used the Internet to find and view it. It’s a clunky way to engage.

Harry Potter-style newspapers are possible today, if you read them on a tablet, but not print. You could read the newspaper with a VR/AR headset … maybe. That could make the experience more normal.

However, how much extra did it cost to create the publication? It is a lot of extra effort to apply this treatment to your newspaper. The point is still relevancy. Does it touch enough people to drive a material change in circulation?

What happens to your advertisers? Do they get kicked out of print, and you sell the pages again in AR? What is the effort versus the reward?

The “reality” today is still one of wait and see. We ran a trial at Archant — a well-managed and executed trial, of course. We took a lifestyle magazine and created additional content only accessible via AR, triggered through the photography in print. We marked it up so the users would know to download the app and hold it over the pages. We followed this up with more imagery, video, and, of course, a sponsor.

We even made some of the advertising AR, allowing the advertiser to show a commercial, more information, and links to its Web site and social media.

The editorial and advertising teams liked it, the customers liked it, and some readers engaged. We hit our sales targets, we delivered the publications on time, and they were correctly marked up — it all worked.

However, it was incredibly time consuming and a distraction from our core objectives, not least of which was trying to make the augments worth engaging with in the first place. We were never going to build 3-D dinosaurs and flying fairies.

The problem we had was the reader engagement wasn’t strong enough, especially for the advertisers. Also, it had no positive effect on the sale of the magazine. This led to us stopping after the trial. This is what a successful trial looks like, I guess; it told us what to do.

The tech is changing, fast, and more people will engage with it. There is no doubt about that. And, maybe a material and sustainable opportunity for news media is coming. Imagine viewing a house, a car, home improvement ideas, a hotel, your vacation, or trying on clothes or jewelery.

It’s not here, yet. That’s the “reality,” I guess.






Cross-channel measurement, attribution offer valuable marketing information

20 September 2016 · By Darrell Kunken

Marketers have always wanted to be able to account for the value of every marketing channel and consumer touchpoint. 

But it’s not an easy thing to do. You have to have the right technology, the right data, and expertise to overcome the barriers.

Today, cross-channel measurement and attribution is at the top of many marketers’ list of priorities. The interest in this practice also led to the greatest year-over-year jump of any mentioned tactic, reflected in the table below from eMarketer.

It is also one of the hardest pieces of data to capture.
Cross-channel measurement consumes a lot of time for marketing practitioners.

One of the most common methods we see businesses use for tracking attribution is based on last click or last touch. That is the last channel buyers references as being used before they make their purchases.

This can be an incomplete picture and dangerously misleading for a business that is making marketing budget decisions based on that kind of data.

Bee Media is working with businesses to help them build multi-touch, multi-channel attribution models that enable the SMB to assign a more realistic value to each marketing channel. Instead of giving credit to only the last channel, all the channels we can tell the customer came in contact with before making a purchase are given credit.

Many marketers only look at the last point of touch before a purchase is made.

The multi-touch model is harder to build, but it is what you want. That’s how marketing works. Ad impressions from various sources all help move the consumer along the path-to-purchase. Providing our business partners with this kind of data and marketing service is highly valuable for both of us.

In reality, purchasers leave a trail of information before buying a product or service.

With this kind of view and this kind of information, you can now have a different (and very valuable) kind of conversation.






Media companies must translate data for long-term advertiser success

30 August 2016 · By Adam Burnham

Data-driven marketing is hardly new. For proof, think of how long you’ve been receiving credit card and insurance offers in the mail, and how often you receive them.

Marketers continue to employ this tactic because it works, but the most successful operations aren’t the result of a single mailing list and a huge postage bill. In fact, they’re the culmination of years of refinement and audience curation, paying attention to response rates and conversions over months, years, and decades.

This is important to remember in these data-centric times, especially for online marketing.

Provide value to advertisers with data-driven information they understand.

Online behaviour has opened up new ways of targeting consumers, but the wealth of data doesn’t necessarily mean that data-driven marketing is any easier. If anything, it requires just as much time, effort, and consideration than it did in the past.

News media organisations that want to seize the opportunity in online advertising should be putting considerable thought into their data operations, while at the same time exhibiting as much patience as they can as that data team gets off the ground.

The INMA’s Big Data for Media 2.0 report states “the most robust and successful media organisations agree that building a company-wide data strategy requires buy-in, investment, and hands-on involvement from the highest rungs of management.”

Nothing could be truer. Building a worthwhile operation requires lots of consideration about which partners to use, how the data will be used, and the amount the operation will rely on internal and external data.

The rubber meets the road when it comes to sales and client services. If your news media organisation has taken the time to build a solid data team and plan, it’s still a challenge to convince advertisers to leverage what you’ve put in place.

Your organisation may know that data is the future, but advertisers — especially the smaller ones — can sometimes lag well behind the industry trends.

To succeed and get advertisers to buy into pilot campaigns, you’ll need to sell them on the outcomes and what’s in it for them, rather than just the potential of a shiny new toy.

Data is scary, especially at the SMB level. No small business owners want to spend all of their time sorting through spreadsheets to figure out how advertising is doing. The thought alone probably makes them quiver with anxiety!

Instead, develop an approach that makes it easy for them. Build a team that can translate the data for your advertising partners so they’re comfortable. Honestly, you could invest all the money in the world in the best technology, and it means nothing if your advertising partners aren’t comfortable working with your data operation.

All of these pieces are vital to long-term success in the media industry, especially as it relates to digital. Building a successful data operation is far more complicated than signing a contract with a technology platform or storing all of your audience data on a server.

Carefully consider how you want the data to be used and how you’ll help your advertiser base use it. If you build around those questions, you’ll be well-positioned for the long term.






Media “audience” becomes “community,” changing value proposition

25 August 2016 · By Lynne Brennen

The people whom we call our customers reflects our evolving knowledge about them as a group and as individuals.

With an MBA listing still damp on my resume and a passion for the business of journalism, I found our terminology particularly vexing. In fact, when I started at the New York Times, I was reprimanded when I used terms like “customer” and “product,” and heaven forbid we consider ourselves “marketers.”

Rethinking how publishers refer to their customers can change how they are treated.

To be appropriate, we referred to our customers as an action: circulation. And, we were circulators.

That arcane nomenclature didn’t last for long.

Within a year or two ...

...[more]




Daily e-mail blast helps manage information overload for sales staff

09 August 2016 · By Darrell Kunken

My daily routine at the office includes a commitment to sifting, sorting, and reading through mountains of communications, and ultimately reading the most important messages.

As I read, I constantly run across articles of information that make me think “this is a good tidbit” or “this is a great article that our research and sales teams should read.” But, if I forwarded an e-mail each time I thought that, recipients would find their e-mail boxes full and their patience with me running short!

The MAD Minute is a quick summary of the most relevant information for the sales team.

And, if a salesperson’s day was dedicated to reading everything I found of interest, she wouldn’t have time to sell!

Over the years, we have created electronic libraries where those with a need could go and search for information the research team has collected and stored for their use. But ...

...[more]




About this blog

The Innovative Advertising Solutions Blog looks at not only integrated advertising sales for newsmedia companies but the full spectrum of agency-level marketing solutions for advertisers: print, digital, package, and event sales; social media marketing services on behalf of advertisers; and behavioural targeting across a range of digital products.


Meet the bloggers

Lynne Brennen
Principal
New Leaf Media Consulting
Montclair, New Jersey, USA
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Adam Burnham
Senior Vice President, Interactive Sales and Services
Affinity Express
Elgin, Illinois, USA
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Brooke Christofferson
Vice President of Client Strategy
USA Today Network
McClean, Virginia, USA
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Philippe Guay
Executive Vice President, Strategic Partnerships
SendtoNews
New York, New York, USA
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Darrell Kunken
Director of Research/Market Analysis
The Sacramento Bee
Sacramento, California, USA
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Wayne Morgan
Digital Director
Archant
Norwich, United Kingdom
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