Local Media Consortium Touts New comScore-Validated Reach

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The 75 newspaper groups and broadcasters that comprise the Local Media Consortium have always pitched advertisers that their “premium” content pulled in big numbers of readers. But LMC’s stats on unique visitors to its members’ 1,600 digital platforms were produced by a crazy quilt of measurements from individual publishers. The result was totals so high – 450 million UVs per month was one – that they obviously included multiple counts of users browsing multiple sites.

Marketers sometimes do want to follow users across sites. But they also want to know exactly how many actual users are behind lofty UVs. A user may visit several sites in one day, but he or she has only one wallet. Now the three-year-old group has a number they feel is on the money (thanks to the green-eyeshade people at comScore): 133 million UVs per month as of November 2015.

That number shows that LMC’s publishers reach 51.4% of the U.S. population, making the Consortium the seventh most visited news entity in comScore’s monthly traffic count.

I recently caught up with Rusty Coats, LMC’s executive director, to see how the group plans to exploit the new comScore-authenticated traffic counts as they make their pitches to marketers.

“Unique visitors”3 aren’t necessarily unique, right?
News consumers look at several news sites, so self-reported numbers will count the same uniques several times. I visit so many news sites each day that, to an aggregated self-reported tally, I’d be 30 uniques. We wanted the comScore rollup to wash out that duplication so we had as solid a unique count as we do on our ad impressions. Having these numbers from a trusted third party validates our scale.

Are you throwing out the old, self-reported numbers in favor of the new ones from comScore?
I think both numbers show opportunity. If a local user visits three local media sites, the LMC can help an advertiser reach that user on all sites with one buy in our Exchange.

Where do you go from the November number of 133 million UVs?
That count – comScore’s first for the Consortium – is extremely high, but not all members’ digital properties were measured. December’s count should be even more impressive.

With these counts, can you parse them for marketers by the communities and neighborhoods they want and provide demographics and behavioral patterns behind the numbers?
Yes, geographically and demographically: income, household size, number of children, gender, a number of other breakouts. Also by platform and, within that, by operating system. It’s valuable and actionable data.

Marketers today talk about campaigns framed around the “consumer’s journey.” What is LMC doing to help marketers chart this journey in their campaigns?
A number of things. Through our partnering with Google and DoubleClick, we spend a lot of time delivering pertinent messages to our users across all platforms and as they move throughout the local news ecosystem. We’re also working with our data-management partner Lotame on studying and leveraging data segments so that we connect audiences with the right messages.

Are CPMs trending higher?
Higher CPMs in the Exchange, yes.

On partner work, is Lotame actually producing results in connecting audiences with the right messages?
We are just now implementing Lotame across the full LMC. Individual member companies are already live with it, though.

Tom GrubisichTom Grubisich (@TomGrubisich) writes “The New News” column for Street Fight. He is editorial director of hyperlocal news network Local America, and is also working on a book about the history, present, and future of Charleston, S.C.