While Google and Facebook grab the lion’s share of online advertising, news media companies around the world are fighting back in more creative ways than ever before. In Thursday’s session of the INMA European News Media Conference, delegates heard from several case studies from across Europe on how to grow advertising revenue in print and digital. 

When considering the competitive future, news media brands tend to look at the threats posed by Facebook, Google, and others. However, they might also consider looking at the opportunities in lessons given by the evolution that mainstream brands are going through that is leading them to become both more activist and more relevant.

Four news media companies provide case studies in growing advertising revenue.

JoomBoos: Gathering the best Croatian YouTubers in one place

JoomBoos is the innovative idea coming from Styria Media Croatia. While its main objective was to start up the national YouTube scene in Croatia, it has also created engaging video content for teens and Millennials to love and get hooked on.

Boris Trupcevic, CEO of Styria Media Croatia, explained that by setting up a channel with the most popular Croatian YouTubers, the company was able to not only become a new creative platform for exciting video content, but to make some money by connecting with major brands to open a totally new market for their campaigns and products.

JoomBoos now exists on many channels besides YouTube, including a Web site, print, an original show on Videostar, and an original drama series on Same Dream (leading to Styria Media Croatia being the first media house to receive an Effie award).

Programmatic print: Revolutionising the trading of print

There are 2,895,000 newspaper readers in Denmark, with print advertising still bringing high ROIs. That’s why Jakob Nielsen, business development manager at Ekstra Bladet, decided to put programmatic print — a revolutionary idea of trading in print — at the forefront.

Jakob Nielsen, business development manager at Ekstra Bladet, talks programmatic print at the INMA European News Media Conference.
Jakob Nielsen, business development manager at Ekstra Bladet, talks programmatic print at the INMA European News Media Conference.

Although demand for print advertising has declined drastically over the past 10 years, the effect of printed ads has not. With programmatic print, the objective was to simplify and modernise the process of purchasing and booking a print advertising campaign by integrating the process in the system where media buyers already book and purchase digital campaigns.

Print is second in terms of ad spending, not far behind digital, which is No. 1. Development of the trading of print advertising has been overlooked and underdeveloped. Nielsen argued that since programmatic is happening everywhere in digital, with radio and TV standing next in line, we should think about programmatic print.

He pointed to four ways of buying print ads:

  1. Private deals, offering fixed prices and terms between publisher and agency/advertiser. Through private deals, agencies can easily find, select, reserve, and book ads in a single workflow. Readership data from Kantar Gallup is available to ensure that the ads find the appropriate section (and audience).
  2. Open RTB and auctions following the traditional auction model, where buyers place bids for the inventory (and can see other bids). When the auction closes at deadline, the highest bid wins the auction.
  3. Request for proposals is the traditional format in which agencies and advertisers can request a quote.
  4. Underbid opens for the chance of going below the lowest bid on standby terms.

Nielsen shared his reflections on Ekstra Bladet’s experience, from both the positive and the negative sides.

On the positive side:

  • It turns the discussion away from decreasing subscription bases and declining readership.
  • It provides a good way of talking about print from a positive and innovative perspective.

On the negative side, the drivers for slow adoption include:

  • The challenges for integration with legacy systems.
  • The problems associated with underestimating the cultural change, and how it will impact media agencies.

Irish Times’ native advertising strategy

Eimear Moran, media solutions director at The Irish Times, spoke about her company’s native advertising strategy, with campaigns for which The Irish Times Content Studio has won numerous awards. Here are the numbers that demonstrate The Irish Times’ reach:

  • 1,024,000 monthly Irish adult reach (TGI 2016) via Web site or app — a 36% YOY increase.
  • 15.1 million monthly Irish visits.
  • 47 million page/screen views as of June 2017.
  • 725,000 social media followers (on the main news account only).
  • 4.5 million monthly user devices as of November 2016.
Eimear Moran, media solutions director at The Irish Times, discusses the company's native advertising strategy.
Eimear Moran, media solutions director at The Irish Times, discusses the company's native advertising strategy.

The Irish Times has an “audience first” approach, which is a necessity, Moran said. It allows publishers to know what is relevant to their audience. Trust is the most important metric they have. Your work is only effective if you build trust, she said, explaining that human stories work. Moran noted that it is also important to make the process as simple as possible.

VN brand initiative for SMBs

Is it still possible to grow advertising revenue in print — and if so, how? Georg Burtscher, CEO marketing & sales of Russmedia Digital, introduced the Vorarlberger Nachrichten’s (VN) brand initiative for SMBs.

The VN newspaper builds its “Brand Initiative for SMBs” with a local focus and relationship to local advertisers. In combination with the editorial product “VN-Lokal,” they have grown regional print revenues year on year against all odds.

Georg Burtscher, CEO marketing & sales of Russmedia Digital, discussed the Vorarlberger Nachrichten’s (VN) brand initiative at INMA's European News Media Conference.
Georg Burtscher, CEO marketing & sales of Russmedia Digital, discussed the Vorarlberger Nachrichten’s (VN) brand initiative at INMA's European News Media Conference.

The first step was the qualification of potential customers through structured questions: VN’s ad sales team conducted 850 interviews to learn more about potential customers who had not used VN’s marketing channels.

The team invited those potential customers to a “how to raise brand awareness” event. More than 300 business owners agreed to attend an entertaining presentation that explained how brands are created. VN showed video testimonials from their existing customers, and showed how VN’s offerings can help local businesses profit throughout the year.

The result: 180 small- and medium-sized businesses that had not advertised in VN before have now committed for a one-year package. This comprises 15% of VN’s total sales revenue, representing a 10% growth in revenue.