There are plenty of bad prognostications about the future of the community news business out there. But if you look at what is actually happening company by company, site by site, the view is not universally grim. There are a number of players making serious progress in digital revenue.
“You can’t always focus on monetization,” says 30A’s Mike Ragsdale. “You have to focus on what’s good for the community and for your audience. In my experience, if you do that, the money will eventually follow. Put others first, and they’ll inevitably support you.”
Over the past few weeks, I’ve received a barrage of ads for storage centers in St. Louis despite the fact that I live in South Carolina. I’m also seeing ads reminding me to “finish your trademark” event though I’m not interested in trademarking anything. I asked experts about why mis-targeted (and wasteful) ads like these persist, and what the ad industry is doing about them.
Overall, 78% of the 96 sites in the closely watched survey of independent news sites reported revenue increases in 2015, with 13% saying they doubled revenue and close to a third reporting gains of 50%.
Up until now, most digital ad targeting has focused on marrying the right ad with the individual user. But that kind of targeting can be hit or miss. This new partnership will try and connect the right kind of ad messages to the right editorial content across Lee’s 20 million monthly visitors.
What if local newspapers, instead of chasing after ever-bigger traffic numbers via platforms like Facebook, cultivated fewer but more receptive users — the kind that would be more attentive to advertising messages, especially if the messages had less blare and more flair. Could going deeper on community coverage result in higher CPMs?
“We built an online community newspaper the old-fashioned way — with daily deadlines, plenty of shoe leather and a grueling schedule of personally attending dozens of community events every month,” publisher James Macpherson says about his 12-year-old local news site.
A month ago, four major newspaper chains proudly announced the founding of Nucleus Marketing Solutions, a partnership that would help them compete with “the platforms.” Today, one of the chains, Tribune Publishing, is threatening another, Gannett, with a “poison pill” strategy to prevent a hostile takeover.
A new Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism study find news publications tipping their revenue funnel toward native advertising. What caught my eye had nothing to do with dollars. It was all about how sponsored content could connect with readers as much as “news.” And sometimes maybe more.
Advertising network LiveIntent has 1,300 publisher clients, including Hearst, New York Times, Washington Post and ESPN. Through these relationships, it can target 130 million unique visitors. We caught up with the company’s president, Jason Kelly, to talk about how local publishers can compete with social-media platforms for ad revenue.