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Ours is an industry full of contradictory truths that must be met head-on for long-term survival

28 August 2014 · By John Newby

I had the opportunity to attend the Leap Media Solutions Vail Roundtable this past week. One of the highlights of this event is the few hours spent with Professor Paul Wang, associate professor in the Medill integrated marketing communications department at Northwestern University.

One of the key take-aways this year for me is the concept of “contradictory truths.”

What is a contradictory truth? Simply, it is a situation where both sides bring valid truth to their side of argument or dilemma. In other words, both sides can make a valid and truthful argument as to why their choice or course of action is the right way.

As I was listening to Professor Wong, it occurred to me that the news media industry is full of many contradictory truths. Should we eliminate a day of distribution? Should we construct a meter or a paywall or remain free? Should we stress digital over print at all cost? Will either digital or print really ...


Research shows readers lose trust with native advertising. Is the revenue worth it?

24 August 2014 · By Elisabeth Clark

Recently HBO’s John Oliver described native advertising on his “Last Week Tonight” show. If you haven’t seen this, watch it now (video below). It may be the most important thing you do today.

Oliver provided a comic narrative about the long-standing separation of church and state — i.e. advertising and news — in the newspaper industry, and how that line is now blurred with native advertising.

He showed a clip of New York Times executive vice president of advertising, Meredith Levien, defending native advertising at a conference: “Let me start by vigorously refuting the notion that native advertising has to erode consumer trust or compromise the wall that exists between editorial and advertising. Good native advertising is just not meant to be trickery. It’s meant to be publishers sharing storytelling tools with marketers.”

But Oliver called native advertising out for what it really is: “Exactly, it’s not trickery. It’s sharing storytelling tools. And that’s not bullshit. It’s ...


Media companies must work harder, smarter to attract college-age readers

14 August 2014 · By Dan Johnson

We’re fast approaching my favourite time of year. I love autumn – the smells, the colours, football, a feeling of togetherness.  

As a circulation sales manager, I look forward to the excitement of increased sales, both in home delivery and single copy, as the vacation season winds down and consumers settle in and prepare for the winter months ahead.

For most media companies, the fall also represents the start of a new school year and an opportunity to reach arguably the industry’s most important audience: young readers.

The idea for this blog post came to me when a potential client asked if the company I work for had ever done any Newspapers-in-Education funding programmes. I was somewhat surprised to hear this request, simply because most newspapers have cut back on investment in student readership programmes such as NIE.

This gave me pause to reflect on the importance of student readership and the fact that many newspaper companies have ...


3 tips for employing outside help for direct marketing campaigns

05 August 2014 · By Nadine Chevolleau

At the Toronto Star, we create most of our direct marketing subscription offers in-house. From messaging to creative design, we do it all – and I think we do it well. But as well as we do it, we are always looking to improve. 

This is why I decided to work with an agency last month to develop some new concepts for our direct marketing campaign for subscription sales.

Don’t get me wrong: I am constantly testing new creative, messaging, and data against our best performer. But I felt perhaps it was time to draw some inspiration from elsewhere.

The agency we hired had experience developing direct marketing campaigns for the newspaper industry, so I felt comfortable giving them control over the creative design and messaging used for our direct mail and e-mail campaign.

I told the agency I did not want them to ...


The tablet vs. the smartphone: What is the device of the future?

20 July 2014 · By Sandy MacLeod

At the INMA World Congress event in San Francisco in May, there was considerable buzz after the presentation by Montreal’s La Presse regarding La Presse Plus, a tablet-only offering that has generated considerable local interest and a consumer stickiness that is surprising many.

La Presse’s results so far are impressive, with more than 400,000 downloads of the app, daily personal usage of more than 120,000, and time-spent levels that make most news Web sites or tablet offerings pale by comparison.

When the tablet first emerged, there was great fanfare that this new platform could be just what newspapers needed to find a path into the digital future. While it has taken longer than one might have expected to embrace the tablet, perhaps ...


Events can help media companies balance uneven revenue streams

17 July 2014 · By John Newby

When we discuss the direction of the news media industry revenue streams on either a macro or micro level, two predominant revenue streams head to the top of the charts. Traditional print still is king at most news media companies, with online/mobile building momentum in most corners of the globe.

While both of those are and will remain critical to our long-term survival, let me offer a potential third leg of that three-legged revenue stool we all seek: events.

News media companies have dabbled in the events arena for quite some time, but with limited success because they often focus on events not destined to create any significant financial windfall. Cooking shows, for example. Or community events such as runs, concerts, and so forth, which are great for local support and exposure, but ...


Which is more important — what to sell or where to sell it?

15 July 2014 · By Jim Fleigner

When it comes to finding new starts, circulation departments need to provide the right offer at the right price in the right places.

Seemingly simple, this statement posits three elements, but is any one of these elements actually more important, or more valuable, than the others?  

To answer this question, we recently looked to a top 50 newspaper client for which these issues were top of mind. Circulation executives were directed by management to undertake an aggressive starts campaign. The campaign was to include a low circulation price (so the second of the three elements was a given, regardless of whether it was “right” or not), in exchange for a lengthy subscription term.

But the team was given no direction by management about ...


Media companies: Hoard your data like it’s cash

25 June 2014 · By Elisabeth Clark

Do you remember your very first time? No, not that first time. I’m talking about the first time you received a relevant recommendation of something to buy or read online?

Remember how that felt? It was like that Web site really knew you?

As for me, I remember it well. I remember the struggle of finding the right Christmas gifts for my preschool-age son. I tromped and trudged through Target and Walmart and, yes, Toys R Us. But how would I know which toys would actually appeal?

Enter Amazon. My hero. Amazon gently took me by the hand and nicely produced a list of suggested toys by age and gender. I purchased several of the items from the list and marveled on Christmas morning how much my son loved his toys.

After that, I was hooked. Each year, Amazon sent me a list of toy suggestions for my son. (Remember, now they knew how old he was, too.) I happily pointed and clicked. I never had to grace the doors of Target, Toys R Us, or Walmart, because Amazon told me what my son would like and delivered it right to my door.

Little did I realise that Amazon’s perfect suggestions were based on my data and that of thousands of others.

Jeff Bezos is brilliant. Very few people seem to argue with this. Media from around the world have waited and watched to see what his first major move would be after purchasing The Washington Post last fall.

Rumors circulated! Would Bezos shut down the presses? Would he ...


What can we learn from New York Times’ “Innovation” report?

16 June 2014 · By Dan Johnson

In my last few blogs, I have focused on different aspects of the print audience. These audiences continue to be very important to media companies as they still generate the lion’s share of revenue.

Unfortunately, we must also face the inevitable truth that print is becoming a smaller piece of the audience pie. While we’ve known this for years, even now newspapers are struggling with developing strategies for reaching non-print audiences.

In March, The New York Times released a report meant to assess the state of digital innovation and audience at the media company. The report, called Innovation, pointed out that, while The New York Times does a wonderful job at journalism, it is falling behind the competition when it comes to news delivery.

Competitors such as The Washington Post, The Guardian, Vox Media, and Look Media are pulling ahead of The Times, according to the report, when it comes to growing online readership. (In fact, the report points out that often The Huffington Post gets more traffic from Times journalism than does The Times itself).

The report was the product of a task force of eight “of the most forward-thinking minds from around the newsroom” and two members of the strategy group. The team interviewed hundreds of employees and readers, and reviewed copious amounts of internal and industry data to come up with a workable (yet difficult) plan to reach an increasingly digital, increasingly fractured audience.

We can call learn from ...


Big Data — or “Better Data” — gives advantage to print publishers

08 June 2014 · By Jeff Clark and Siobhan Vinish

Big Data: What is it? What to do with it? How to take advantage of it?

All questions being asked by everyone in advertising — from the advertiser looking to take advantage of the realms of customer data he has, to the newspaper publisher who has mountains of information surrounding her users’ reading behaviours and interests.

Big Data and audience are hot topics in media right now, and traditional print publishers are at the forefront of effectively leveraging this data. Many articles prognosticate the “end of print” and that “print is dead” without coherently itemising how the end of newsprint shall come to be.

The piece they’re missing is that print/media publishers know more about their audiences than many pure-play digital Web sites.

In other words, their Big Data is also Better Data.

Most of what these shortsighted articles fail to analyse is the role content plays and how it relates to gathering potent and compelling user data.

The analysis and segmentation of data that can come from readers consuming premium news content is where print/media publishers gain an upper hand. Readers are just not moving through Web sites looking at images or checking someone’s social update; they are reading in-depth articles about specific content.   

As Tier 1 firms such as Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn have demonstrated, capturing inferred audience habits and interests is extremely important. But those metrics also have ...


About this blog

The Satisfying Audiences Blog aims to reflect print and digital content not just across platforms but extending into consumer events, non-news-related subscriptions and other audience vehicles for newsmedia companies. This blog written by INMA members is dedicated to identifying the emerging linkages between content, audiences, and platforms. The blog is an initiative by the INMA North America Division Board of Directors.

Meet the bloggers

Lynne Brennen
New Leaf Media Consulting
Montclair, New Jersey, USA
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Nadine Chevolleau
Consumer Marketing
The Toronto Star
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Elisabeth Clark
Vice President
Audience & Engagement
South Bend Tribune
Indiana, USA
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Kathleen Coleman
Sales & Marketing
S-R Media
Spokane, Washington, USA
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Anne Crassweller
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Jim Fleigner
Managing Partner
Impact Consultancy
Santa Monica, California, United States
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Claire Hawley
Audience Acquisition
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles, California, USA
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Dan Johnson
Vice President,
Business Development
Spokane, Washington, USA
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Sandy MacLeod
Vice President
Consumer Marketing and Strategy
The Toronto Star
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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John Newby
The Times
Ottawa, Illinois, USA
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Siobhan Vinish
Senior Vice President
Marketing & Audience Development
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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