local media insider
Case study

WBOC's five strategies that gained top market share

A single market station won a nationally rank of top three in digital revenues

Alisa Cromer
Borrell's Bubbles: Click to enlarge this slide showing pack leaders in market share of Digital Market Revenues (DMR). The arrow shows WBOC emerging in the top three.
WBOC also leads in share of revenues in its Television Market Area for a single property broadcaster, in part due to the digital agency strategy.
The key to selling DelMarva Life is packaging. Click to enlarge these items.
Included in the three tiers is an onair segment that runs on the website and is part of a daily 5 p.m. broadcast.
The deals site, obituaries, and Holiday Guide sign up are all house on the site.
Packages also include some channel specific sponsorships, as well as featured profiles.

Company: Draper Digital Media operator of two television stations, WBOC and Fox21Delmarva, their sites, DelmarvaLife.com and StateofDelmarva.com.

Web Traffic: Total traffic 350,000 to 500,000 UV’s monthly (Webtrends, ComScore, Webilizer)

Owner: Draper Holdings
DMA: Salisbury, Maryland, plus the areas of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia known as Delmarva

Initiative: Draper Digital Media and DelmarvaLife.com

Key executive: Brooke Warner, General Manager for Interactive for WBOC

Summary:   Kicked off in 2010, WBOC’s digital effort (both legacy and the separate unit, Draper Digital Media)  has passed the $1 million and is heading towards $2 million, according to LocalMediaInsider's estimates. In fact, it now has  12.6% share the DMR, or Digital Market Revenue - a term for locally spent online advertising - the third highest in in the country, according to Borrell Associates. That also makes the company the top single property producer in share of spending for its Television Market Area, at 7% (see second image below). 

Percentage of total market spending, at 7.7% is ahead of any single property television company: 

Key components of Draper Digital Media's strategy

Led by General Manager, Brooke Knight Warner, Draper Digital Media's in-house agency is largely responsible for the gains shown in these bubble charts.  The initial strategy for the group outlined early on by LocalMediaInsider is largely still intact, with some important advancements.  The biggest change has been the expansion of services and shift to a fully consultative sales approach. Also key to success is pricing and packaging of  a community site/directory site that allows sellers to call on a multitude of smaller sized local businesses and tap into promotional dollars.

Key factors to market share success include:

 1. Inhouse agency services with comprehensive product suite

Product lines have expanded to include all areas required for a consultative sale; ie social media management, online presence, reputation management, audience extension, asset building (websites, content, collateral tangibles), SEO and SEM. The product suite has grown gradually over the past three years; the personnel organization of the agency now includes three back end fulfillment positions:

- A project manager for all display buys (banners, sponsorships, video banners, pre-roll, audience extension)

- A project manager for agency services, and two developers.

- One dedicated content manager.

Fulfillment is inhouse plus best of breed vendor partnerships.  Fulfillment for social media presence and management is in-house, but other services rely on best of breed third parties: 

- vSplash for web site development, SEO and Buzzboard

- Borrell Associates statistics as go-to-market sales tools

- AppExpress for app building.

 - NRS Media has also been highly successful as a provider of tightly formatted advertiser workshops where brand-centric initiatives have had enormous digital success, laying a base of digital revenue as far as two years into the future. 

Note: See all third party partners endorsed by media resellers at MediaExecsTech ->Categories->Reseller Opportunities. 

 2. Separate sales forces 

 A second key to success is a separate sales team of  four digital only outside sellers, plus an inside sales team.  Legacy reps can sell digital media and agency services, but digital-only sellers can also call on any legacy account that is not billing 1% of revenues in digital (with the exception of those specifically listed as a Do Not Call, in certain cases.)  LocalMediaInsider has gauged from numerous case studies that digital only sellers generate $100,000 to $250,000 in sales of SMB products and services, typically new business that legacy reps consider too small, or which are in non-traditional categories such as B2B. 

Now that products lines are fully comprehensive, the other largest shift over the past three years is towards a fully consultative sale. 

3. Community site build into a variety of packages and price points 

A key early innovation for WBOC's digital plan, was launching DelmarvaLife, a local directory where merchants can build a profile, participate in guides, and purchase featured status.  The hyper-local guide-style site remains foundational and is included in every DelmarvaLife.com sale. DelmarvaLife offers classifieds, deals, obituaries, pet lost and found, and other features more typical of print sites.  The separate brand also leaves the powerful WBOC brand to focus on trusted, high quality local news.

Sales packages have been developed to fit every price point and niche, including a package that starts at the $200 a month range.  Types of packages include those that target categories and ones that focus on one particular type of marketing tool, such as mobile or display. A digital starter tool kit is offered to companies who want to try a digital marketing mix, as an introduction to learn how each component best performs – together and separately. Beyond packages, there are also a full range of a la carte media, marketing, branding and social media products that can be sold alone or bolted onto any of the basic packages. Finally, a high end package includes an interview segment on their new co-branded on-air show, DelmarvaLife, named after the website. 

4. Branded on-air with native advertising segments for smaller advertisers 

A key initiative has been the development of DelmarvaLife, the on-air interview show. An interview segment on the show can be packaged with other digital services, at a lower price point than a full broadcast campaign, bringing new digital advertisers to the legacy media and beefing up the package value. 

The show has an hour-long format, much like a local Today Show. Guests (both paid and invited) are interviewed and packaged around a valued story, specifically designed in a format unlike an advertorial. Video segments also form content for the online community site.

 “Whether on air or online, the content has to have value to the audience. The producers work tirelessly to ensure that comes through with every segment.”

DelmarvaLife the show and DelmarvaLife.com re-enforce each other, but also  have their own audiences. Segments are featured on the .com as home page content.   

Segments also  include live performances from local entertainers...

....and calls to action from the Pet Channel events and connect with a pet initiatives. 

Finally,  solicitations ask visitors to click to participate in the show's studio audience: 

The show is popular enough to have won its time slot and be moved to a better window at 5 p.m. Following in DelmarvaLife.com’s footsteps is a new aggregation and curation site called StateofDelmarva.com that pulls together news and opinion from all over Delmarva. There is now a morning call in program airing on Fox21Delmarva that covers current events from this local and hyper local perspective. These local programs help create a price point for smaller SMBs that make both TV and the web more affordable.

Warner says the digital directory has been key to allowing the station to expand its reach and compete with the multitude of local and national directories, local promotional media (such as ValPak) and larger media competitors such as the Gannett-owned Delmarvanow.com.

"(The Directory) doesn't have to beat Google, it has its own place connecting local folks with local businesses through a well-respected and beloved set of brands (WBOC and DelmarvaLife)." With approximately 60,000 unique visitors a month, the guide has significant direct traffic for such a small market.   

5. Longevity 

Just as sales reps are more valuable three years in, the entire digital agency strategy, if done correctly, matures. The 2010 starting point for the digital agency is a key to its current market penetration levels. Three years is a significant marker in the ability to develop sophisticated product suites, back end systems, and a knowledge base of "what works." 


Top digital only sellers can bill $250,000 after about three years, though most are in the $150,00 to $200,000 range.

Since 2010 the team has kept at 60% CAGR.

Since 2010, the team has brought in over 1200 new businesses.

LocalMediaInsider estimates revenues from the agency at between $1 and $2 million in late 2013. 

 Lessons learned: 

• The five keys to Draper's market share success include: 1. Separate agency with comprehensive product suite, 2. Separate digital sales force, 3. Community site and packages at variety of price points lower than traditional broadcast,  4. Tie-ins with branded on-air show that includes native advertising segments, and 5. Longevity. They started Draper Digital Media in 2010. 

• The most difficult part of the process has been recruiting digital sellers. The market is so competitive that many of the newcomers are willing to pay top wages to find and keep sellers.

• Competition is proliferating. "We used to have 9 to 10 competitors, now it's more like 29, mostly digital pure plays gunning for ‘local dollars’, but also now the agency arms of other legacy media. It's a gold rush."

Brooke (Knight) Warner Brooke Warner, COO, Draper Digital Media

Delmarva, WBOC, Fox21Delmarva, Draper Holdings, Salisbury, inhouse agency, native advertising