During a marketing-related session Tuesday at the INMA World Congress of News Media in Washington D.C., three major publishers from around the globe described how their advertising departments are branching out to make money off products and services beyond their own traditional inventory.

Reuters has started marketing an online television service, Gannett is positioning itself as a B2B solutions provider, and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is bundling external products and services for its client base.

World Congress panelists discussed how global media players are tapping into innovative sources for revenue.
World Congress panelists discussed how global media players are tapping into innovative sources for revenue.

It is a trend of tapping into the wide range of expertise housed in many publishers’ advertising departments but increasingly under-utilised due to the continued decline of advertising sales.

For a news service that normally operates in the background of other publishing organisations, “this is actually a great opportunity for the Reuters brand to step out of the shadows and embrace the fact that we are an unbiased news source,” said Jessica April, vice president of integrated marketing.

The company’s “big experiment,” as April termed it, is Reuters TV.

“We started to kind of take advantage of this consumer marketing solution and created a direct-to-consumer video app that gets right to the point,” April said. “Users can create their own schedule. They can download it so they can watch it if they’re on the subway underground or want to watch it later in the day. They can programme it to personalise the content they want to see. And they can also personalise how much they want to watch.”

Reuters has seen “an enormous group of people” start to take advantage of this app, April said, and is working closely and very creatively with advertisers to position their messages in the Reuters TV space.

For Paras Maniar, president of Local at Gannett, the key phrase is “solution selling.”

“What businesses want is solutions,” he said. “How to find more valuable customers. How to get more traffic to my site and social presence. How to build my brand. And then, which marketing efforts get you calls. Who are my best leads and where did they come from? How can I better stay connected with my customers? Then eventually, where should I spend for my best return on investment? How can I engage with clients outside of business hours and build loyalty? How can I optimise my messaging for mobile formats and social advertising?”

Maniar stressed the importance of thinking like customers about the full range of what they are trying to accomplish and what they need. He went on to outline how his division is positioned to bring major, integrated, multi-platform marketing expertise down to the local business level in all of Gannett’s 109 markets.

At SPH, the problem is a decided over-reliance on print-based revenues, said Su-Lin Tan, senior vice president for integrated marketing. Her team’s job, therefore, is to buy as much time as possible for SPH to roll out a mature digital circulation and membership strategy to carry the long-standing Singapore media house into the 21st century.

Toward this end, Tan said the company is pursuing two categories of monetisation. The first is to drive up yield and sell-through of SPH’s own assets. The second is to bundle in external products and services to serve an expanded client base through social, search, a publisher trading desk, media representation, content and creative services, lead generation, and events/experiential opportunities.

“We know that if we stick to just selling our own inventory, our potential will definitely be finite. It will come to a ceiling at some point,” she said. “We have to look beyond our own assets, our own ad inventory. So today we monetise from a variety of other sources.”

Additionally, Tan added, “I think we have a great skill set that sits in our midst, and we should look at ways of unlocking that a little bit more and do more even if it sits on a competitor media or on different platforms that we don’t own today.”