This year's Local Media Association fall conference focused on how local media are developing new revenue streams. Key take aways include:
• Google Consumer Surveys is making headway with small and large newspapers attracted to the easy money.
Google sent it's GCS evangelist, Matt Villacarte, to speak at the conference. Not all his representations panned out for local media but in general those who have partnered say the arrangement is both lucractive and too good to pass up. The case study on Shaw Media's adoption of the partnership is here and a discussion of other options including using both Civic Science and GCS is here.
• Back from the European exchange mission, LMA Executive Director Nancy Lane pointed out almost all European media now sell campaigns in bundles of up to ten channels (mobile, tablet, print, online, email etc.) on every sale. We think this points the way for U.S. media to sell integrated campaigns.
• Email marketing is finally coming of age - and being recognized as a revenue stream. Email has been around forever, but local media are just starting to understand the real value of the email audience lists - and how to resell email marketing. More case studies on this area will be here in the next few weeks.
• Inhouse agencies continue to develop. The most popular idea is to start with a bundled package of (mostly) third party services and advertising, and use these to as lead generators to "step up" merchants into larger media buys. Gatehouse is hiring a sales force of 100 people for its new Propel agency and will be partnering with other media who want to piggy back on their formula.
One number tossed around as a first year investment level to start a separate agency was $200,000. However, we talked to Rust Communications CEO Jon Rust last week at the Missouri Press Association and their company is on track to make a profit of $100,000 first year. The devil's in the details.
• Gordon Borrell of Borrell associates made yet another research-based pitch for local media companies to hire at least one separate digital specialist. We concur yet again - this is a simple best practice for all local media. In case you missed it, just one digital specialist doubles diital sales per rep from all reps, according to Borrell's research.
• Another popular presentation was made by Jason Taylor, president and general manager of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Gannett's 2006 executive of the year, Taylor built a $3 million annual revenue stream from events from zero at the Chattanooga Times in just three years. So how do you do this if you can't get Taylor to run your company? We'll have the basic steps directly from Taylor in the next couple of weeks.
• Finally, a side conversation at the conference yielded this observation: Package banner ad sales not just in SOV blocks, but in minimum blocks of 50,000 impressions. We've heard this before, and it's worth walking through the math: with a typical CTR of .1%, 50,000 cick throughs are worth about 50 site visits, more if it is a high demand product (a popular concert or free offer, for example). Anything less just does not generate enough traffic to move the dial.
Thanks to Local Media Association for putting together an inspiring week of presentations from an always thoughtful and progressive group of print leaders.