local media insider

The road ahead: In 2013 local media will be leaner and (digitally) meaner

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While 2012 saw more lay-offs and cutbacks, more companies also dove deeper into the digital space, aiming for a higher percentage of digital revenues. We predict 2013 will be a transitional year for many companies as years of hard work and cultural change begin to payoff and accelerate:

• Media companies will focus more intensely on two buckets to grow the revenue base: Picking off a few more large advertisers in their markets, and increasing overall marketshare via selling digital services to smaller, but more numerous businesses at much lower margins.

Media will increasingly compete across platform (television, radio and print) for the few big accounts in their market, many of which have been broadcast-only for years. It's time to review who these acounts are, what they want and send high level calls from executives empowered to execute new ideas, from contests and events to web sites and integrated content. We see this trend as heating up. Look for LocalMediaInsider to bring new ideas from around the country on how to land these big accounts.

For larger advertisers, more media are exploring how to buy inventory on ad networks that expand targeted and retargeted buys. Local ad networks have a great future in 2013.

• As downward pressure on display advertising continues, the larger market for smaller advertisers - i.e. ones that have lower margins and take longer to sell, is looking more attractive to more companies. Whether agency-styled (which is the most promising) or in bundles, these digital services initiatives will almost always require a separate sales force, and mature more slowly. However most media companies are starting to recognize the long term value of this proposition.

Part of this trend is more competition for between turnkey vendors who cut down the learning curve and help with sales training - but also take a larger cut. We see more media asking "What will we keep?," not just "What will we sell?" as the markets open up. Look to LocalMediaInsider to keep you posted on the best opportunities.

Media companies will also look to increase margins by reorganizing staff with expertise in social media services and blog posting into new commercial units, in which the media is just one customer, and less tolerance of employees who are unwilling to step up to these new models.

• Emphasis on email and data collection. Now that data-mining is growing up as a definable revenue stream, there is more interest from local media. While many good vendors power email registrations and contests, these services will become more sophisticated, and vendor integrations more important. Look for a break-out company in the data-consolidation industry to emerge. It could be a CRM system that integrates with email, rather than a traditional database company like FileMaker Pro.

• The consolidation of the dashboards and continued movement towards leads based models. 2013 will be the year the leads-based reporting across platforms takes hold, and shifts from the search world into the display advertising world, and further up the sales funnel than was previously expected.

• Outsourcing will continue but shift towards more administrative rather than creative functions. We predict that outsourcing of creative advertising and editorial writing will begin to move back inside, while services such as Odesk, which allows media to directly hire competent people for $1 to $2 an hour for many administrative tasks, will become mainstream.

•Finally, we predict the re-emergence of traditional media in a strong position to experiment, launch products and invest in technology start-up. With their two core strengths – the audiences and sales forces - local media are getting more comfortable with technological explorations.

That is, 2013 may be the year that media technology start-ups and legacy media companies begin to merge; we will see more joint ventures and partnerships, and an increasing array of interesting combinations.

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