local media insider

What's the difference between an omelette and a ham sandwich?


This site looks at practical ways to increase digital revenues. But one  tricky issue is how to really measure success.  Is success based on whole dollar increases of digital initiatives? A higher percentage of digital compared to legacy sales?  Are there other qualitative factors we should be looking at: Share of market, share of customer, retention rates,  turnover? 

Yes, yes, and yes. But it is nearly impossible to accurately track a key factor that multiplies revenue: Advertiser engagement. One complaint I hear most from local sales managers is that their staff fails to conduct a thorough needs analysis that gets to the heart of the advertiser's challenge.

It's much easier to look at audience engagement than advertiser engagement. We know how many pages a visitor looks at, how many minutes they spend on site and especially how many times they return in one month. Fly-bys (once a month), Incidental Visitors (a few times a month) and Core Loyalists (several times a week) describe three main types of audience, not just by how much they spend, but by the depth of their relationship with the site.

Local media sites are even - slowly - getting better at understanding the true value of loyalists in the audience. Since 50% of loyalists use two computers (home and at work) and most computers now have automated cookie-clearing settings. So we now know loyalists are greatly understated and responsible for most actions taken.

But we have no such terminology to group advertisers into buckets that reflect not only their current dollars spent, but the strength of their relationship. Instead of dividing account lists into small, medium, regional and national, what if accounts were tagged as FE's or PP's:  "Fully Engaged" in their campaigns or just  "Passively purchasing, "  or some other indication that they have been converted to loyalists.

In other words, if the relationship with customers is the company's most important asset how do we know if that relationship is an A or a C?  Should we have a metrix t- or a poster in the sales department - that asks if they changing ad copy regularily?  Buying multiple products? Optimizing campaigns to improve them? Tracking ROI? Planning on renewing? 

Unlike ratings for audience loyalists, sales representative tend to overestimate the engagement of advertisers who often are buying the same amount with another media company  or may cancel due to "budget cuts" when the problem is a simple lack of enthusiasm. 

Advertisers who are engaged open the books, discuss ideas, ask questions and review measurable results. Their campaigns have agreed upon expectations and data-collection tools from click reports to click-to-call and email forms

There is also qualitative difference between sales organizations that court these intense results-based relationships, and those who do not. Those who do understand that advertiser engagement is survival. Like the old joke about the difference between an omelette and a ham sandwich, the chickens are involved but the pigs are committed.

Not all the responsibility is in the hands of the sales representatives or even the sales teams. In part, a key job of local media leadership today is making sure that the sales departments are able to sell what advertisers want.

Top stories this week include two case studies of local media initiatives that show a commitment to making technology support sales.

The first case study is the Riverside Press-Enterprise initiative led by digital innovation director Andrew McFadden: EMedia Waves is a self-serve social media services platform for small businesses, with full-service upsells for blog, Twitter and Facbook updates.

I'm a firm believer in social media sales, because they help sales representative think outside the box and deal with real problems their advertisers are having in the market, so I applaud the P-E for grabbing the white label platform from  SBLive just before its sale to ReachLocal. 

At the other end of the spectrum is  a health campaign created by KPAX.com, the site of the CBS affiliate in Missoula, Montana. Under the guidance of head of interactive, Philip Maney, the site launched a campaign for its local hospital that integrates hospital content into a video channel and creates a site for its favorite charity drive.

Maney met with the sponsoring hospital before even launching the channel with premium video news from HealthDayTV. 

Ironically,  the health site launch is reminiscent of the kind of creativity that print publishers used to exhibit before technology created a bottleneck. Kudos to Evening Post Publishing Company for creating a responsive process.

Please share your comments, revenue initiatives and top-peforming ad campaigns with me at alisacromer@gmail.com.


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