Newspaper Digital Summary-10/29/16 Halloween Edition

pumpkinThis blog’s purpose is to keep audience and revenue executives up to date on the massive changes taking place in the newspaper industry by selecting specific stories that show how that is happening.  See how newspapers are addressing those changes in the top stories below including-Why audience engagement must be appropriately defined

On the hunt for direct audience connections, publishers turn to desktop push notifications  Thanks to Facebook’s ever-shifting algorithm, publishers are scrambling to build direct audience connections through e-mail newsletters, revamped homepages and even desktop push notifications.

Plummeting Newspaper Ad Revenue Sparks New Wave of Changes With global newspaper print advertising on pace for worst decline since recession, publishers cut costs and restructure.

An Unlikely Trail From Digital To Print As today’s media landscape continues to evolve, media groups must remain ambitious.

On Mobile, Interstitials Get Attention, but Few Second Looks People are used to seeing a variety of different mobile ads, whether standard banners, or something a bit more interactive.

The Financial Times removed words from stories to convince readers to whitelist its site- 47% agreed  Hope isn’t lost for media organizations trying to get readers to stop blocking their ads. Maybe all they have to do is ask.

Why audience engagement must be appropriately defined  The lack of an agreed-to standard is creating an ongoing game of cat-and-mouse between those attempting to define a measurement “standard” and those trying to show they are reaching an audience and have good (or great) engagement levels.

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Digital Services And The Opportunity For Weekly Newspapers

There’s no doubt that almost every daily newspaper has deployed a digital services program and they’re already seeing the benefits of such a program in terms of expanding their active account base and incremental revenue. From Gannett to Gatehouse and everyone in between, digital advertising revenue is at the top of the list of priorities in 2016 and it continues to become a larger part of the total advertising revenue picture. With global spending on newspaper print ads expected to decline 8.7% in 2016 (according to estimates from GroupM, the ad-buying firm owned by WPP PLC), it’s easy to understand why digital must be an essential component of every media company’s offerings. Yes, digital ad revenues aren’t growing fast enough to offset declines in print, but we have to push forward in expanding our offerings to our current customers and prospects. These programs do work for our customers and the incremental revenue created can grow quickly.

However, there are many weekly newspapers that haven’t taken advantage of this opportunity for themselves and their advertisers.  In conversations with several weekly newspapers,  I’ve heard some of the same reasons for not pushing this program forward in smaller/weekly markets:

  • We’re small and don’t have the resources to make it work.
  • The market isn’t large enough. Not enough prospects.
  • Our reps know print and won’t/can’t make the transition.
  • The mindset of the sales team isn’t where it should be about adding a more expansive digital product line.

While it might be more challenging, weekly newspapers can take advantage of this account growth/revenue opportunity more easily than one might think. The opportunity this product line creates is not bound by your print frequency or your core market.

I know this because I’m in the process of helping a very reputable media company (comprised of weekly newspapers) launch a digital services program from the ground up. They are excited about the opportunity this product line creates to better serve their customers.

Here are the highlights of what you need to know:

  • From the signing of the agreement with a digital services provider, your sales team can be selling digital services to current, former and never customers within approximately 45 days. Some companies can launch quicker, some take longer.
  • There are usually setup charges from the digital services provider along with a monthly fee, but the payback on these charges is quickly recovered with incremental sales once the program is launched. With many companies, regular monthly fees do not kick in until the program is actually launched and there is some flexibility in when the setup charges can be paid.
  • Training looks to be comprehensive and complete. The digital services provider I’m working with is walking side by side with the team in the development of an excellent training program. From product knowledge training to in-person sales calls to refresher training,  sales executives will get the tools they need to sell. Training is actually split into two on-site visits. First, the team gets trained and then they go into the field to use what they learned. The second training session is designed to identify challenges the sales team encountered in the field and work through them.
  • By working with the team, product bundles will developed that make the most sense for your market and for our team to sell. With so many products available, this process takes all the options and packages the right ones together. Single product options are also available.
  • Questions and concerned are addressed quickly. As you can imagine, starting at zero and building this program within any organization creates many questions. Since the success of the digital services partner is tied directly to yours, response rates (at least with the company I’m working with) and support have been excellent. Any team will need this, especially in the beginning.

Even though the process of launching any new product line is challenging, this very important one is one of the easier ones (and I’ve been involved in some pretty complicated ones over the years) and grows revenue for you and new customers for your advertisers. In discussions with our digital services provider/partner, the average amount of incremental revenue per new account averages between $350-$750 per month. Even at the low end of this range, you can see the potential.  You know your market better than anyone and if you do the math, you’ll see rolling out a digital services strategy is worth overcoming any questions or concerns you might have.

Last thing, someone in your market is going to take digital solutions to your client base. It should be you.

I’ll keep you posted as we continue to move through the process of rolling out this exciting program.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. My hope is this post provides enough information and encouragement to get you started.



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Newspaper Digital Summary-10/23/16

Jeff NAAThis blog’s purpose is to keep audience and revenue executives up to date on the massive changes taking place in the newspaper industry by selecting specific stories that show how that is happening.  See how newspapers are addressing those changes in the top stories below including –Internet mysteries: Where does the disappearing ad dollar go?

Digital will keep soaring, even with its flaws There are two narratives that have been emerging about digital advertising

Apple News is sending publishers traffic, but not revenue A number of publishers say Apple News is sending them a significant traffic boost in the past month, but it’s doing little to help them monetize it.

The Telegraph overhauls mobile app to focus on speed  Apps remain an important channel for the Telegraph’s core audience of paying subscribers. Now, to better serve this small but engaged user base, the publisher has redesigned its main news app around speed and convenience.

The Atlantic’s Website Will Now Let Some Pay to See No Ads The Atlantic would like to figure out a way to make some money off of the 8.5% of unique visitors to the magazine’s website who use an ad-blocker.

Google May Be Stealing Your Mobile Traffic I was surprised to find out that instead of redirecting users to an optimized version hosted on my server, Google was actually serving a snapshot of the page from their own cache.

Internet mysteries: Where does the disappearing ad dollar go? Publishers continue to gripe about ad tech’s complexity and transparency.

“GateHouse’s Newton: ‘We Want to Own More Local Newspapers’”  We are enormous believers in the future of local newspapers and local journalism, so of course we want to own more local newspapers.

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Newspapers Digital Summary-10/14/16

Jeff NAANewspapers are maximizing the opportunities within their print and digital audiences while developing new products and platforms.  See how newspapers are meeting the challenge including this week’s story-Publishers are pleasantly surprised by Google AMP traffic

Robots are polarising how we consume news There is good reason to be concerned about changes in news media distribution and the impartiality of news sources

One-Fifth of Apple iOS Users Avoid Ad Targeting in Apps Apple’s bulked-up Limit Ad Tracking feature is proving to be a hit among consumers.

Publishers are pleasantly surprised by Google AMP traffic  If some publishers are cooling on Facebook Instant Articles, they’re becoming hot and heavy with Google AMP, the search engine’s answer to Instant Articles.

How Massive Cuts Have Remade The Denver Post Journalists at the state’s largest newspaper once wondered how much more they’d have to endure. Now they’re finding out.

How Local Journalism Can Thrive with Partnerships, Community Engagement  Community engagement and developing local partnerships are the keys to success in sustaining local news organizations.

Most Millennials Have Installed Ad Blockers Millennials may be just as annoyed by ads that block content as other people are, and many are turning to ad blockers to help combat that

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Newspapers Digital Summary-10/8/16

Jeff NAANewspapers are maximizing the opportunities within their print and digital audiences while developing new products and platforms.  See how newspapers are meeting the challenge including this week’s story- McClatchy Strategy: Go Big and Small to Create ‘Moments’ With Each Reader

Google giveth; will Google taketh away? You can’t exactly accuse Google of being shy.

Younger adults prefer to get their news in text, not video, according to new data from Pew Research Digital publishers may be pouring time and energy into cranking up their video operations, but for a lot of their potential viewers, text is still the way to go.

Your Amazon Prime membership now includes magazines, the newest batch of content in the bundle Amazon on Wednesday said it was adding a new feature to its Prime membership program in the United States

McClatchy Strategy: Go Big and Small to Create ‘Moments’ With Each Reader Like other chains of dailies, the company is pouring resources into how to make the long leap from a no-longer-secure print past to an alluring but uncertain digital today and tomorrow.

Google AMP adoption brings performance gains for some news outlets Google today released new information about the impact that its open-source Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology has had on some media outlets.

10 facts about the changing digital news landscape Digital news continues to evolve, pushed by a variety of innovations in recent years.

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Digital subscription growth-personalization is the key.

Depending on where you are in your newspaper’s paymeter life cycle, you may still be experiencing significant growth in digital subscriptions. If you were an early adopter, you’ve probably experienced a slow down in acquisition. Slow enough that, in some cases, the stops are outpacing the starts. Yes, digital subscription churn is a challenge much the same way it is in print.  If you’re like a lot of other newspapers, it may even be more challenging to retain digital-only subscribers through normal retention channels. While we’re much better at it now than we were when we started, the data we originally collected on a digital subscriber might have only consisted of a name and email address.

In other words, simply putting a meter in place and setting it at at an eight-pageview limit (the average among over 200 newspapers with a meter in place), worked very well in the beginning, but the number of subscribers you’ll get this way could be approaching the limit.

Typical efforts that most of us have used to combat the slowdown are:

  1. Introductory offers-at one point almost every newspaper was offering the $0.99 introductory offer. This idea worked well for quite a long time but, depending on what your full price conversion price was, it loses some of its luster in long term retention rates.
  2. Annual discounts-offering very large discounts to lock subscribers in has also proven to generate new subscribers but puts quite a dent in the revenue needs of your organization.
  3. Premiums or giveaways-in my experience these programs have worked, but not to the degree introductory offers or annual discounts have in terms of acquiring new subscribers.
  4. Day passes have been a very effective way to introduce readers to our content and more importantly, turn them from reader to customer. The data collected through the day passing process is more important than the actual revenue generated from this single transaction and allows you to create marketing messages that are specific to the day pass subscriber. Many media companies have used this strategy very effectively.
  5.  The use of data for acquisition and retention is, from a long-term perspective, the best way to locate, acquire and retain subscribers. Larger newspaper companies have developed their own solutions to use data while others have partnered with experts to not only use the data to identify those most likely to subscribe, but to know how best to communicate with them. Either way (build or buy) isn’t inexpensive, but it’s the investment we’re going to have to make to grow.

As stated above, this ‘one size fits all’ approach worked well and got us this far, but beyond these traditional strategies for marketing and the advantage a CRM gives us, what’s the next step in the metering process that we need to move to in order to continue to grow our subscriber base?

Personalizing the reader experience. In my opinion, having the ability to adjust meter levels based on different factors is critical to continued growth.  Targeting by user group, what content is being consumed, what part of your market the reader resides or in some cases, what country they live in, is critical to increasing conversion rates.  Knowing what content resonates with our reader base allows us to be much more strategic with how we interact and what experiences we serve to them. This includes the ability to have multiple messaging options and offers based on specific criteria, including entry to the site from social media platforms.

Many newspaper companies have already deployed personalization strategies and are seeing  the benefits in terms of higher conversion and retention rates. Several of the companies that provide metering technology offer this ability and are adding new features with every release. They get it and so should we.

The bottom line.  If you believe digital subscription growth is a key component of revenue growth going forward, then we’re going to have to continually upgrade our strategy and technology to get to goal.

Personalizing the reader experience through the use of continually evolving technology and user focused strategy is the key.






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Is digital subscriber growth topping out?

Most of us have been aggressively selling digital subscriptions for several years now and charthave enjoyed continued growth in this category for quite some time. In many newspapers however, growth has slowed dramatically. Some of this is our own doing as we’ve cut back on the aggressive discounting we used to drive the number, but even in markets that weren’t discounting, growth has slowed or even vanished.

I’m putting together a post about this and could use your help. Below is a simple poll concerning this. Please participate and I will share the results in the upcoming blog post. No data other than your answer is captured when completing this poll.






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