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What newspapers can learn from alternative weeklies

16 April 2015 · By Dan Johnson

In my spare time, when I’m not thinking or writing about the newspaper industry, my main hobby is music. In my house, we either listen to music or play it live pretty much whenever we have free time. (My wife and I are in an acoustic quartet that plays around town.) In addition, we love concerts! Big or small, national or local, we make a point of trying to see music in any town we visit.

Now, I hate to admit this, but the local daily newspaper is often not the first place I go first to find out about these shows.

Let’s talk about alternative weekly newspapers. You know the ones. Every city has them. They are the irreverent, sensational magazines distributed at the entrance to the local head shop.

Editors I have worked with shunned the idea of being compared in any way to these local freebies. I agree that we should distance ourselves editorially from these publications as much as possible. But these publications do bring value to consumers, and there are some areas in which newspapers ...


New York Times research finds young news readers seek reliable news sources

13 April 2015 · By Sonia Yamada

Media Insight Project’s study “How Millennials Get News” reported that 85% of Millennials say keeping up with the news is at least somewhat important to them, giving news providers reasons to be optimistic about our chances of attracting this important audience.

You might be wondering why we are all so interested in this generation. People entering adulthood have always been different from older generations. So what’s new? Can’t we just wait for them to grow up?

We care because Millennials are ...


Are news media companies providing the experience that keeps customers coming back?

08 April 2015 · By Maria Terrell

I’d like to think I’m cool. I’m hip. I’m with it … which, by default, means I’m none of those things.

Fine. I admit it. I am now “of a certain age,” which comes with its own privileges along with now being “ma’amed” out of respect instead of sass.

One of these privileges is that, as a consumer, I know what I want, and dammit – I deserve it.

As a consumer, I no longer blindly accept what is offered. I specify. I request (politely), and if it isn’t possible, I then insist with a bit more of the afore mentioned “sass.” 

Interestingly, once you get past the shocked businesses and surly sales people, it becomes part of your consumer DNA. You gravitate towards businesses that are supportive of your requests. They care about your experience.

It is part of what they deliver: experience.

This hit me while speaking with a friend who was recently promoted to national customer experience manager for an audio/visual company. When she told me about the promotion, I asked: “What the hell is a customer experience manager (CEM)?”

Upon a bit of Googling, we realised that it is ...


Even Big Data starts out small

02 April 2015 · By Lynne Brennen

big da·ta
noun: big data
    1    extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.

How well are publishers preparing for a world of Big Data? I mean, beyond the board request for a multi-million dollar investment in technology?

Success with Big Data begins with …  just data – the little boring bits of data that are chewed on, considered, and challenged within an organisation. As with most things corporate, a data culture — whether it is big or small data — begins with leadership at all levels of the organisation.

Does senior management ask the right questions and request ...


Sex sells ... sometimes

30 March 2015 · By Kevin Curnock

My first newspaper job was at the Toronto Sun. The tabloid is well known for its pull-out sports section, its coverage of crime, and its daily photo feature called the “Sunshine Girl” (properly spelled SUNshine Girl, presumably to pay homage to the most important star in our galaxy). 

The Sunshine Girl is typically a slim young, woman photographed in a sexy pose accompanied by a short biographical sketch. For example, a recent edition features Mimo, “a model, aspiring actress, and belly dancer who’s currently studying filmmaking.”

This does not represent the height of tact but presumably it sells ...


6 reasons to adopt a newspaper loyalty programme

10 March 2015 · By Dan Johnson

I’m not a big fan of grocery shopping, but one thing I appreciate is the loyalty card that I use when I do shop.

It’s kind of cool when the checker has scanned all of my items and I swipe my card because it’s fun to watch the total due go down as the loyalty card discounts are applied. “THANK YOU LOYAL CUSTOMER!” pops up on the small customer interface at the grocery store check-out line after I’ve swiped my grocery store card.

It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling as if I am part of an exclusive club or family. It’s a mutual relationship of giving: I give my loyalty to the store, and the store rewards me by offering me “exclusive” pricing and “points” toward something or other.

Because of the great discount I get on fuel as a result, I remain generally very loyal to that particular grocery store chain.

Loyalty programmes are big business and are very popular in many industries, especially the credit card and airline industries.

With the advent of computers, tablets, and smartphones, loyalty programmes have become less labour intensive and more effective at driving customers. They can be a very effective way of ...


Media companies bring Academy Awards to digital audiences

25 February 2015 · By Kathleen Coleman

The envelope, please.

The words stoke excitement in the hearts of movie lovers worldwide on Academy Awards Sunday. And savvy media companies found ways to create and extend audiences well beyond those planted in front of televisions on Oscars night.

Of course, sunny star-studded Los Angeles is the global hub for the pageantry, and each year the Los Angeles Times has upped its Oscars game a bit more. This year, its online offering was nothing short of gold for those who don’t live in the Times’ home delivery area.

On one’s mobile phone, tablet, or desktop, a viewer could partake in a stunning photo and video display of red carpet arrivals and download an at-home ballot to play along. One could play Oscars bingo, view film trailers, read LA Times reviews of contenders – and click down as deep as she wanted to learn about Marion Cotillard, nominee for Best Actress in “Two Days, One Night.”

She could watch exclusive video interviews with Reese Witherspoon, another Best Actress nominee for “Wild,” then read reviews and feature stories about the book that inspired the movie. She could play an interactive game, “Could you win an Oscar? Play and ...


5 ways companies are missing the mark with targeted marketing

24 February 2015 · By Claire Hawley

Let’s get this out of the way first: A solid micro-targeting strategy has to start with an infrastructure that can tie together multiple data sources (aka Big Data).

Micro-targeting is not new. Businesses have been doing this for ages because micro-targeting was the only targeting available: small, one-dimensional lists.

Today, micro-targeting is about pinpointing audience segments across massive volumes of massive volumes of data (no, not a typo). It’s costly and complicated, and the reality is there are very few companies executing data targeting strategies well.

Let’s put aside the nitty-gritty details of how to hire and build a database marketing organisation; which retargeting, marketing automation, or programmatic platforms have the best targeting capabilities; or whether you need Pigs, Hives, Hadoops, Sparks, or some gal named Cassandra on your team.

Instead, I thought it would be fun to look at pitfalls I’ve seen when I take off my marketer hat and step into my consumer shoes (Manolo Blahniks, of course). Some of my favourite brands are making common flubs in getting me to buy, and sites I visit regularly are missing the mark with content recommendations.

They’re simply not looking at the data in a way that ...


3 things Dallas Morning News hopes to gain from admitting it doesn’t know it all

22 February 2015 · By Nicki Purcell

How do you know if you are really satisfying your audience? You talk with them – and, more importantly, you listen.

As a media executive, I’ve found that I can find a wealth of data on almost any audience behaviour if I just ask the right people the right questions.

Smart executives have come to rely on carefully crafted scorecards and regular metrics to measure the critical things like reach, time on site, number of pages deep a consumer goes, etc.

But I’ve come to realise this is only the beginning.

Often when we set out to conduct research, hold focus groups, or talk with consumers, we already have a product idea or feature in mind. We’re seeking their validation or feedback.

But something magical happens when you take the time to walk out into the street and actually get to know your audience. You can’t just listen to prepare your response. You have to listen to understand.

This way of thinking seems so logical and easy, yet few media companies embrace it.

The Dallas Morning News has been no different. After 130 years as a successful, well-trusted brand, we often think we know what satisfies our audience.

But admitting what you don’t know can ...


What if a digital effort is not enough?

10 February 2015 · By Sandy MacLeod

As a news media executive, it’s hard to avoid constant messages that urge newspapers to better embrace the digital world, do more, deploy more resources, and pursue all platforms aggressively and so on. 

I get it; digital is important.

But what if it’s not enough?

For the most part most, news media organisations and their executives have understood the message and have invested heavily in their digital efforts. However, in most cases, the financial results have been soft. The Internet isn’t new anymore. It’s been around for 20 years and new business models for news providers have yet to materialise, at least in a significant way.

Digital advertising is a prime example of “perfect competition” where the inventory is unlimited and the cost of providing the service will eventually drop almost to zero. Only the largest and most efficient players will be able to ...


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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Kathleen Coleman
Sales & Marketing
S-R Media
Spokane, Washington, USA
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Kevin Curnock
Executive Director
Business Improvement
Brunswick News
St. John, New Brunswick, Canada
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Jim Fleigner
Managing Partner
Impact Consultancy
Santa Monica, California, United States
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Claire Hawley
Vice President of Audience Development
Tribune Publishing
Los Angeles, California, USA
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Dan Johnson
Vice President,
Business Development
Gilbert, Arizona, USA
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Sandy MacLeod
Chief Operating Officer, Print
The Toronto Star/Metro English
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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John Newby
The Times
Ottawa, Illinois, USA
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Nicki Purcell
Chief Digital Officer and Senior Vice President of Consumer Sales
The Dallas Morning News
Dallas, Texas, USA
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Maria Terrell
Director of Content
Dallas, Texas, USA
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New York City, New York, USA


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