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CN, Östgöta, OVB24, Eesti share advertiser relationship innovations

By Marek Miller


Lodz, Poland


Creative content solutions, serving the needs of advertisers, new print products, and using Facebook postings as advertisements were the topics at one fast-paced Brainsnack session at INMA’s Local Media Ideas Day on Wednesday.

Face Forward is a family business section in which British-based CN Media works. Over the last year, this new project — located both online and in the in-Cumbria magazine — worked with family businesses to paint a picture of what drives them to succeed across generations.

The project has helped position CN Media at the heart of its business community, increasing advertising spending and engagement with the brand and brand extensions, and positively changing perceptions of the company’s skills and its multi-media, solutions-based approach.

Panel on advertiser relationships at INMA Ideas Day: Jonathan Lee, group development director at CN Media; Jonas Brandinger, head of digital sales at Östgöta Media; Florian Schiller, managing director of OVB24; and Raido Soom, sales director of Eesti Media.
Panel on advertiser relationships at INMA Ideas Day: Jonathan Lee, group development director at CN Media; Jonas Brandinger, head of digital sales at Östgöta Media; Florian Schiller, managing director of OVB24; and Raido Soom, sales director of Eesti Media.

CN Media understood that it’s “all around content marketing,” said Jonathan Lee, group development director. “This sector is growing and publishers have to be there.”

The idea of Face Forward was born at last year’s INMA event. CN Media not only commissioned portraits of business owners, but also prepared channels to share the content, such as digital channels, newsletters, social media, a series of exhibitions, and a new section called “Find the Business” in the print magazine (printed on a high-grade paper), .

The project guaranteed a solid growth in income:

  • 75% from B2B advertisers.
  • 100% in B2B digital.
  • 68% in print.
  • 31% in digital share.
  • 48% in sponsorships.

CN Media now has a new mission statement: It will provide compelling media and marketing services that deliver relevant results and/or audience for all commercial partners. “Be innovative. Be creative. Be different,” Lee advised.

Jonas Brandinger, head of digital sales at Sweden's Östgöta Media, spoke about repositioning the local media house as a one-stop shop for local subject matter experts’ (SMEs) marketing needs.

Subject matter experts with limited resources look for partners who can help them reach targeted local audiences. Östgöta Media realised that local news organisations not only have established sales channels and long-term relationships with local SMEs, but also in-depth knowledge of the local market, client needs, and preferences.

Local media are, therefore, uniquely positioned to become the single most trusted and top-of-mind local partner that can serve SMEs as the guide to a complex and fragmented digital media environment.

As Brandinger noticed, 90% of U.S. digital growth goes to Google and Facebook, but in terms of local business in Sweden, this number reaches as high as 99%. So, the question for his company was: Should we fight for 1% or find a way to tap into those 99%?

Östgöta Media operates in an area with a population of 500,000 people within two major Swedish cities, meaning it is at a very local level. Its sales force handles digital and traditional media, as well as events.

Essentially, the digital team is involved with nearly everything: handling display ads, search engine marketing, social media, online video, content marketing, Web service, and development projects.

So, why should a media company add a bunch of non-owned media? Brandinger said:

  • Every marketing plan needs it.
  • The majority of local marketers are totally lost regarding digital media. Lots of decision are being made on gut feelings and relationships.
  • The local media house isn’t cool anymore.
  • Sales teams should switch focus from ad sales and ad placements to selling product.

The problem for Östgöta Media was how to scale. There are 500,000 people living in the region, and eventually there is a possibility of hitting the wall. Luckily, there are factors that make it work for the local media houses. 

  • Some of the outside forces are small or non-existent marketing teams and lack of media agencies.
  • There is a two- or three-year lag because trends take a long time to arrive on the local level and it gives time to adapt and still be ahead.
  • Internal factors include a split in the sales force and investing in back-end and delivery teams.

Brandinger wrapped up with a tip for others: “Figure out what your market needs, make a plan, and stick to it, but be sure the results will not come overnight.”

And why not help local small business build reach? OVB24 of Germany noticed that local small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) love their Facebook pages. They post every day, informing their customers about everything, but what can publishers possibly to do with that? OVB noticed that lots of SMBs working together with low reach can be a great opportunity for publishers.

OVB24 decided to take the latest posting from local SMBs’ Facebook pages, insert them into a self-developed widget, and put the widget into the corresponding local section of where the SMB is located. The widget looks like an ad created automatically through users’ Facebook activity.

Florian Schiller, managing director of OVB24, explained that in order to be competitive, OVB had to set a low price with the €9.90 weekly subscription model. The customer chooses only the area, and there’s a rule: Only one area is allowed per customer.

So, how did it all turn out? This process started this year, and OVB is still experimenting. Self-booking didn’t work well, but tele-sales went up. Beginning with a very low churn rate, the company has seen signs of growth. The customers are increasing — slowly.

Raido Soom, sales director of Estonias Eesti Media, proved it’s too early to call the death of print, as new print products can still grow local advertising revenue.

Maa Elu (Rural Life) is a new insert published with Postimees (Estonia’s biggest daily national newspaper) and five regional newspapers. This is a rather unexpected move in an already fiercely competitive market. The key goal was to increase competition in the advertising market against Eesti Media’s five rival publishers.

The non-financial objective of Maa Elu is to offer added value to the subscribers of the principal newspapers by publishing an overview of matters related to rural life on 12 pages weekly. Maa Elu has helped raise the market share of the print circulation of Eesti Meedia.

Eesti Media is active in three countries in 30 cities with more than 50 different brands in print Web media, TV and radio, e-commerce, and advertising portals. Maa Elu is published every Thursday, with a circulation of 80,700. The number of subscribers grew to 73,200 people in just 1.5 years.

The goals of this step were to:

  • Offer additional value to readers.
  • Become competitive in the advertising market against the five same-sector publications.
  • Increase revenues through new clients and sectors.

Maa Elu’s achievements so far:

  • Publishing 12 pages of the rural life newspaper weekly.
  • Creating unique content and establishing partners through Estonian’s biggest rural fairs and projects.
  • Growing, on average, a sell-out price per page (240%, which means the front page is 2.4x more expensive than competitors’ pages).
  • Print market share growth at 3%.
  • Total revenue growth of €523.684.

On November 1, Eesti Media is expanding its municipal newspaper brand, Valgamaalane. Instead of one municipality, the company will cover three. The ultimate revenue goal for this is +200%.

About Marek Miller

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