3 Ways to Market and Monetize Premium Local Media Brands

Media industry leaders weigh in on how connecting real news companies with real brands helps drive real results.
Kevin Rehberg, Director of Client Development, Alliance for Audited Media
June 1, 2017

There once was a time where the path to generating revenue was clearly defined. Publishers relied on one circulation management team to deliver one newspaper to one reader at a designated address, and told that story to advertisers. Now these same companies are multimedia news organizations that have competitors of all shapes and sizes, face complicated issues such as fake news and ad fraud, and are tasked with reaching readers across many print and digital mediums. And newspapers do all this while focusing on the stories that matter to their local communities.

In a media landscape that’s complex and often uncertain, local news media brands see these challenges as a fresh opportunity to market themselves as a credible source of information for readers and a trusted place for advertisers to place their messages.

“Publishers have worked very hard over the past few years to transform into multiplatform organizations,” said Dan Schaub, corporate director of audience development at McClatchy. “We’re no longer newspaper companies; we’re media companies who offer a multitude of consumer offerings. It is important that we as an industry start to tell the story of how we’re finding new ways to connect with readers.”

To get a better understanding of how newspapers market and monetize their brands, we recently talked to leaders from around the industry about the issues facing publishers and what they can do to stand out with advertisers. Here are three tips we learned from the experts. 

1. In a digital world, make real connections that turn into real relationships.

When you deliver content across channels, it’s important to pay attention to behaviors and preferences to find new ways to develop deep relationships with readers and advertisers. 

For Schaub, the ad fraud and fake news epidemic gives established media companies a new story to tell their stakeholders about how they’re creating meaningful relationships with readers across brand channels.  

“Newspapers have long been trusted sources for current events,” Schaub said. “And now with fake news from sources that are known by few, we want buyers to know that we should still be their trusted brands due to our deep-rooted relationship with readers. Consumers like that they can trust us and get information that they can count on.

“Ten years ago, newspapers transitioned from focusing on ‘circulation’ to focusing on ‘audience.’ Now, at McClatchy, we’re moving beyond reaching audiences to building deep ‘relationship groups’ across our media companies. We continue to deepen the relationship with our readers as we add more products to our brand, allowing us to target our reader base both on a mass and an individual level.”

2. Leverage the integrity of your brand.

If the metrics across all your media channels are verified by a third party, you’ll not only build trust with advertisers, you’ll demonstrate the quality of your brand and increase ad revenue.

As the Senior Director of Marketing and Advertising for Save-A-Lot—a U.S.-based, hard-discount grocery chain, Danielle Bateman Girondo depends on ad agency partner NSA Media to use independently verified data to help determine which markets and partners best align with the Save-A-Lot brand.

“As the nation’s largest hard-discount grocer, we target a variety of consumer segments,” Bateman Girondo said. “When we’re deciding who to target, we use a variety of factors, including trade areas, drive time, income level, propensity to shop, geographic barriers and competitor presence.

“We need to trust the data we’re using to make multimillion dollar decisions. Verified information helps us make those decisions on media mix, spend and placement with confidence. It’s incredibly important to have verified metrics in both print and digital media.”

3. Differentiate your websites and digital offerings.

Because today’s media environment is uncertain, take a stand against digital ad fraud to increase advertiser assurance and be known as a quality publisher.

As publishers continue to build out their portfolios, independent ad fraud researcher Dr. Augustine Fou believes that the human connection news media companies build with readers help their websites stand out in digital media buying, where fraudulent activity is at an all-time high.

“There are 329 million sites across the internet, and only a small percentage of them are premium websites that attract real human audiences,” Dr. Fou said. “The publishers who started out in print have the infrastructure to create websites and content that humans want to read. A lot of other ‘publishers’ either don’t carry content or steal content for their sites.

“There’s only a finite set of good publishers that have real content that real humans want to read. By giving all websites the ‘publisher’ label, we are doing a disservice to the good publishers. As an industry, we have to look at a publisher’s business practices to know if they are doing the right thing.”

Whether news media companies are reaching readers through the Sunday paper on their doorsteps, breaking news on their phones, or in-depth multimedia piece on their desktops, there are plenty of opportunities for publishers to tell advertisers about the legitimacy and reach of their brands.

Contact me at kevin.rehberg@auditedmedia.com for information on tools that can help your brand stand out in your local markets, and gain credibility and visibility for your brand channels.