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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 ...


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 ...


6 ways to integrate video into a newsroom with minimal manpower

26 July 2016 · By Philippe Guay

In my previous two blog posts, I covered in detail the data that supports why focusing on video should be a top priority for any publisher and why maximising video usage is key to driving better audience engagement and resulting revenues.

The issue now for many legacy publishers is how to ensure buy-in within the newsroom for this new philosophy and opportunity. How is it possible to extract more from a team already overworked and that has likely already been impacted by resource reductions over the past 10 years?

Newsroom staff has been reduced by 33% between 2006 and 2015.

According to The American Society of News Editors Annual Census, the total newsroom workforce shrunk from 55,000 in 2006 (pre-recession) to less than 35,000 in 2015. That’s a one-third reduction in newsroom staff while the digital workload increased over the same period.

Is there hope to cope with all the new requirements that video brings while operating with a reduced workforce?

We’ve learned that the answer is “yes.” There are many new tools and industry partners that can enable a newsroom to automate the integration of video into its online content.

Many solutions and best practices are out there to help reduce as much of the human element as possible, while enabling the newsroom to capitalise on new readership engagement and revenue streams.

Here are a few examples of what can be done:

1. Capitalise on automation. Partner with content syndicators that enable your newsroom to embed video in every single article automatically. For example, at SendtoNews we offer the ability to drop in a code that will instantly recognise your article content and populate one or more video clips from our inventory to match the article.

For example, instead of having to locate, secure, and embed video content to support an article for the latest Dodgers game on the Los Angeles Times Web site, it is possible to have an embed code automatically generated when the article is published.

After implementing automation, we experienced a 300% jump in monthly video views on the Los Angeles Times and corresponding uptick in revenue, and we believe this is just the beginning of what is possible.

More views equate to more revenue. With automation, resource limitations are eliminated, and there is no reason every publisher should not capitalise on this technology.

2. Timely publishing of videos. Automation is also a key enabler for timely publishing of any breaking news (political, gossip, sports highlights, etc.). People want to see that amazing buzzer beater as soon as the clip is available. Displaying it on your appropriate page, even initially only with a heading, will attract and retain your readers/viewers.

3. Mobile first. Let’s be candid, if your CMS does not allow you to publish an article with video (or a video-only post) simultaneously on both desktop and mobile, it’s time to find another CMS.

For example, The Washington Post’s new platform is 100% mobile first and is attracting big potential partners like Tronc in the United States and The Globe & Mail in Canada. Mobile should not be an afterthought.

4. Maximise video on each section’s home page or vertical pages. This is another great way to remove labour and generate good views with resulting revenue.

For example, add a video player on your entertainment home page that automatically feeds the latest entertainment news. Add a player on your NHL page that automatically feeds the latest NHL news (or better yet, customise it to your local team).

While section home pages and vertical pages no longer drive the lion’s share of the traffic (usually less than 15%), they are still important for creating viewership at little to no cost from an editorial standpoint.

5. Leverage viral content. Are you tracking trending stories? Are you ensuring they are supported by the most engaging video clips? While this function may still require human intervention, the potential return makes it worth the effort.

On any given day, five or six stories are driving the majority of the news. Who’s ensuring that these stories have at least one relevant video clip attached?

Notice here that many stories have multiple videos, and viewers appreciate the ability to look at the story from various points of view. Nothing beats watching a walk-off home run from the perspective of the player — but then having the ability to review it from the perspective of the player’s teammates, the manager, or even the fans!

6. Focus on SEO and social media. Do you have SEO and social media expertise? If you are able to implement automated video content, then these are two additional activities where investing time and resources will pay big dividends in terms of SEO.

Entities like BuzzFeed and Mashable are likely beating you at this game. They have put the processes in place to leverage SEO/social media like no other, and tend to win big when hot stories break. What are you doing to compete online in your market? What’s your social media strategy to ensure you are the relevant source of news for your audience?

In summary, removing the “daily grind” from your editors’ workflow with video content automation allows your publication to:

  1. Be more comprehensive and engaging with video enhanced articles.

  2. Be more timely and responsive when clips come available. 

  3. Post more video content without taxing your limited resources.

Properly implemented, video content automation will grow your video viewership exponentially and also allow your editors to focus on where their efforts can be more effective, such as supporting viral/trending content, maximising SEO, and engaging social media.

Gannett leverages data tools to grow local auto segment

18 July 2016 · By Brooke Christofferson

The automobile business continues to offer a lot of opportunity for local media organisations.

Gannett has made auto a key priority for its local sales and client strategy organisations. The strategy is rooted in providing deep insights to local dealers using various data sources, new sophisticated tools, and go-to-market storytelling for individual dealers.

Lift, a new insights tool, was built as the cornerstone of the go-to-market strategy for auto. The tool combines dealer sales and inventory data, enabling sales reps to work with dealers to better tailor their marketing plans.

Gannett uses a Web platform tool to identify opportunities in the automobile industry.

Lift is the Web platform that integrates ...


Data makes marketing efforts more appealing to potential home buyers

06 July 2016 · By Darrell Kunken

Sure, we can market to people looking to buy new homes. It is part of what we do.

But what if you (a new home development sales and marketing office) could learn more about your buyer’s goals and motivations for buying a new home?

Knowing where new buyers are moving from offers valuable marketing information for developers.

Katie Murphy, customer specialist analyst, did just that.

By recording the addresses of where the new home buyers are moving from, the new home development gains a greater understanding of:

  • Geographically, where buyers are coming from and how far they are moving.

  • What kind of home they are moving from.

  • What the most influential motivators are for the home they are ...

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
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
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
Norwich, United Kingdom
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Blog archives

November 2016 ( 1 )
October 2016 ( 1 )
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January 2016 ( 4 )
December 2015 ( 4 )
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