The site’s non-billionaire founders aim to succeed with a radically different revenue strategy from their DNAinfo alma mater — their plan for domination does not include advertising. In this Q & A, director of strategy Jen Sabella tells how she and her partners are mapping a new way to make local news work.
The verdict is in: local news publishers do need Facebook, Google and other giant distribution platforms. But only to get the first part of the job done. Whether you’re a self-funded entrepreneurial pure-play publisher or a corporate chain of daily newspapers, you can’t, on your own, generate all the traffic that the platforms deliver to your site.
Political ad spending totaling $1.9 billion will pour into the digital space, most of it on the local level, Borrell Associates estimates in its 2018 forecast. But daily newspapers and local news “pure-plays” will have to fight hard for their share against Facebook, Google and the other digital platforms.
Eight and a half years after launching his hyperlocal news site The Batavian, in upstate New York, Howard Owens is looking at growing his base company, Album Corp., beyond Batavia to multiple locations. His plan for expansion is driven by a homemade mobile app that he’s experimenting with for the site.
Questions are being raised about whether news publishers should keep expanding their relationships with Google and Facebook, and even whether they should pull out altogether. But you don’t hear that talk from the Local Media Consortium, which represents more than 70 newspaper, broadcasting and other local media companies.
Among the most hated by both desktop and mobile users are pop-ups, auto-play videos with sound and large sticky ads. The Coalition for Better Ads, which includes many members of the ad industry, trade associations and a few news publishers, is developing new standards to give users a better experience when they encounter an ad message.
What Google is to search, Facebook is to social. Those same local business owners know that, when it comes to social marketing, a good portion of their success depends on what they and their customers do on Facebook. So if Facebook gets serious about local, could that change the local landscape? What would it look like?