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“Facebook eliminates revenue strategy” and other news headlines you’ll probably never see


I wish they would let me write an occasional headline. I’m not a member of my newspaper’s newsroom. So I can’t really blame them. After all, I’m not a journalist.

I wouldn’t let “them” write my back-to-school sales copy any more than “they” would ask me for tomorrow’s front-page lead cutline.

So just for giggles, I thought it would be fun to write three headlines. They’d cap stories that you’d never read. You’d never peruse these stories; they don’t exist. So don’t go looking for them on the Internet.

Let’s get started.

1. Berkshire Hathaway rescinds newspaper investment, places legacy media investments on the auction block.

In addition to being a bit long for most editors’ liking, this headline isn’t likely to run anytime soon. Why? Berkshire isn’t likely viewing its newspaper investments as cyclical. There is a very real piece to a newspaper that makes it an undeniable value. It’s not like making a play in the gold market.

Newspapers provide their audiences with “comprehensive and reliable information (for) tightly bound communities,” Warren Buffett said. It’s important to add that Buffett acknowledges the value of a newspaper brand is not a function of platform. In other words, Buffett is more than on-board with digital disruption.

He said, “Our goal is to keep our papers loaded with content of interest to our readers and to be paid appropriately by those who find us useful, whether the product they view is in their hands or on the Internet.”

He understands relevance.

When you’re in the information business, relevance and credibility are key. That’s why customers pay their newspaper subscription bill.

We newspaper publishers make a difference in our customers’ lives. Without us, it is a difference they wouldn’t enjoy. Being paid appropriately is an important concept in business. A concept newly public Facebook understands.

2. Facebook removes profit guidance and eliminates revenue growth plans.

After fourth-quarter profit results of US$0.17 a share on US$1.585 billion of revenue, Facebook is serious about making money. So serious that it is monetising new areas of the popular social media site. The company is developing additional revenue streams with ads, game payments, gifts, user-promoted posts, and paid messages.

Since ads make up 84% of Facebook revenue, the tech giant has significant plans to enhance its advertising platforms. Facebook is certain that digital advertising has almost certain growth potential.

Facebook is retooling advertising partnerships, providing audience cloning, working with offline data vendors, and providing ad conversion to help advertisers visualise how “likes” are translating into real dollars.

What could we learn from the Facebook ad gold rush? Don’t sit still.

Run — don’t walk — to the solutions that serve your advertising customers best. Facebook isn’t grasping to the techniques used five years ago. Neither should we.

Speaking of digital advertising innovation...

3. Newspapers resist opportunities afforded by digital ad horizons.

This is the one headline I worry about most. Legacy operations race to prove their historical significance. Disruptive digital units struggle to work alongside or in parallel to their legacy counterparts. 

Meanwhile, pure plays, without distraction of pride or power, steamroll their way across the digital advertising landscape. They do what they do best: sell and execute digital ad solutions.

What sets our media apart? Newspaper organisations have content and audience like nobody else. Look around, provide targeted solutions, include your advertisers in the conversation, and everyone wins.

If you can segment your content to specific audience niches, then you sell that audience at an appropriate cost per thousand. It shifts the focus from providing maximum page views to highly targeted page views.

If there is one thing Google and Facebook have taught your advertisers, it is that value is derived by reaching the most qualified audience, not necessarily the largest audience.

You’re not certain to see headlines No. 1 or 2 anytime soon.

When newspaper publishers sell ad programs reaching well-defined audience segments, paying them CPMs at a premium of run of site, however, they buy their best insurance against headline No. 3.

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