News media companies are facing current declines in revenue head-on with innovative, inspiring efforts. Three companies shared their strategies, goals, and some early results at INMA’s Virtual World Congress on Monday.
Gannett | USA Today Network
It became clear early in the COVID-19 lockdown that there would be an impact on Gannett’s nationwide partners, Kevin Gentzel, president of marketing solutions and chief revenue officer, said. It was crucial to take actions that would support them while deepening the partnerships.
Here are three ways it did so:
- Time to rally: Gentzel suggested to Gannett president and USA Today publisher Maribel Perez Wadsworth that they co-publish an op-ed uniting to support local businesses. This piece, entitled “Time to rally,” encouraged communities to show strong support for local businesses by buying gift cards or ordering delivery, as well as announcing Gannett would be launching tools to support them as well.
- Support Local: Within 24 hours from idea to launch, Gannett created the Support Local tool to allow people to buy gift cards and keep cash flow going for businesses. Support Local now has 10,000 businesses entered in and has had more than 1 million page views.
- Partnerships: Gannett has also built a business development partnership with Verizon’s Pay-It-Forward initiative, with both companies linking to each other on their pages. Another partnership with Proctor and Gamble led to a social media campaign where TikTok celebrity Charli D’Amelio created a viral dance routine called #DistanceDance.
In terms of planning for the future, Gentzel said the term “future” means something different than it has in the past: “The future is June, and then I think we recalibrate and see what we’re looking like in July and August.”
The Irish Times
“The topic of partnerships is way more relevant than it’s ever been,” Eimear Moran, media solutions director for The Irish Times, told INMA delegates.
Sharing a case study intended for a pre-COVID world, Moran talked about a partnership with Fitbit. While many of the objectives in this partnership — such as connecting the partner with the right audience and an emphasis on high-quality storytelling — are still true for campaigns in the current atmosphere, current campaigns require a focus on the basics. What does Irish Times know about its audience and readers?
A simple strategy emerged: Create sparks of joy. In a world where content being produced is causing concerns and anxiety, the company wants to create other reasons for advertisers to partner, adapting products and placements so they can become sparks of joy.
A confectionary company had plans to create an experiential campaign before the pandemic, and in continuing with that plan, Irish Times created Zoom events and emphasised The Women’s Podcast, Big Night In, as a new opportunity to reach target audiences. The campaign targeted current subscribers in part as a retention effort that reminds them of the value offered by the brand.
“Our world, our business world has been turned upside down on its head,” she said. “What we need to do is keep communication going with our clients, keep understanding how our audience is pivoting, what they might want, and where those potential sparks of joy might be… . Most importantly, don’t forget the way we work.”
“The future for us is also June. We can’t see further,” Infoglobo CEO Frederic Kachar told INMA. “We are living day-by-day.”
In terms of new audience growth, the company had an initial 50% surge in terms of pageviews, which now hovers between 40%-45% over the past few weeks. At the same time, Infoglobo has seen a big decline in CPMs:
- Print consumer revenue is down 22%.
- Print advertising revenue is down 35%.
- Event revenue is, not surprisingly, down 100%.
Kacher shared six strategies that are part of company’s advertising action plan to combat these losses, one of which is a focus on turning live events into streaming events.
For example, the company hosted live debates about major issues that affect the country , and they were very well attended (digitally). While events were previously free for attendees and paid for by sponsors, the company plans to test new models that include charging attendees themselves. There is also a potential to turn top-performing articles into Webinars or other digital events.
Thanks to this action plan, Infoglobo has been able to increase its digital ad revenue by 28%. The largest impact of COVID-19 has been to speed up the company’s digital transformation, Kachar said. Any goals the company had for 2023-24 are now goals for this year: “The impact of this crisis on both consumer and advertiser habits has forced us to speed our transformation into a media tech company.”
The Virtual World Congress continues Wednesday with a module on “Smart Data in the Shadow of the Cookiepocalypse.” Click here to register. Attendees will have access to all speaker presentations and session recordings.