Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Newspapers and Innovation

I love it when David Reich tosses in his 2 cents on newspapers and innovation - then takes a moment to send email and let me know he posted. Try as I might to keep up with newsreaders and rss feeds, they overwhelm me. Email communication is current. It gets my attention. Or maybe its most familiar. Some say email is already dead. We are living in an disastrously short life cycles if thats the case.

David references an article in Advertising Age by Marc Brownstein. Marc jumps on the "not quite dead yet" ship by writing that newspaper owners are entrepreneurial. They are not lacking in the desire to innovate. And they still make a little dough to boot. He admits newspapers don't have the same number of advertisers or readers as in the past. He suggests that some of each group have migrated to online. He argues that editorial staffs continue to write good - if not excellent - stories and that newspapers are willing to try new things.

Full disclosure which bears repeating - I work for a newspaper but everything I blog about them is my own thoughts and feelings. Here are a few innovative things we are doing where I work - blogs from staff and editors (no marketing blog yet but someday...), contests, community events and promotions, live AP updates, video blogs, niche publications, online comics and games, discussion boards, live coverage of daily news meetings, email notifications and marketing - plus we still deliver it to your door, if you choose. The toughest part is we do it with fewer and fewer people. Like David says, "eyeballs are eyeballs" and we're all trying to figure out where they are looking, what they're looking for and how to get them to pause for a moment.

Later -

Added 11.14 - Mark Goren's 3 part QAD at Transmission Marketing on the Canadian Newspaper Association campaign


Cam Beck said...

What I find interesting about the "eyeballs are eyeballs" philosophy is that we have to understand that eyeballs do not equal engagement. A visit to a page and the purchase of a newspaper doesn't mean everyone who visited or bought a paper saw what we wanted them to see.

However, while a single newspaper can get passed around at a barber shop or a doctor's office, before it got there it at least had to be sold. By and large, visits to newspaper sites (at least the biggies) are free, so it makes it difficult to justify subscription fees and high CPMs that will help pay the salaries of the staffs at smaller, less frequently visited sites.

In part I think the solution is aggregated multimedia content made available similar to how AP works, but also strategies that help deepen the relationships between the paper, the reader, and WHEN APPROPRIATE, the advertiser.

Find ways to facilitate a reader-initiated relationship, and the advertising (if we can still call it that) will become much more valuable.

Bob Glaza said...

Excellent, Cam...3 things pop out in your comment.
1 - eyeballs do not equal engagement. That has been true since dirt was discovered. Yet, eyeballs still remain the measurement we use. One of the things about blogs that fascinate me to no end is number of people who view compared to the number of people who comment. The engagement comes from meeting a want or a need -
2 - Multi-media content - for some reason we want to splinter media. Radio is better than TV, TV better than newspapers, internet better than print. By better I mean gets more results...don't you think each has its place? And combining them makes sense.
3 - reader-initiated relationship. It boils down to serving the wants and needs of reader and customer - visitor?. Admit it or not, we are all in the service business.

And I should have said 4 things...I love "advertising - if we can still call it that" -

Thank you for your thoughtful comments, amigo!

David Reich said...

Engagement is a tricky one, although I know it's become (one of) the new marketing buzzword. Now, more than ever, having the TV on a certain channel does not guarantee it's actually being watched. Although Nielsen is now measuring ratings for ads themselves, how can the people meters tell if anyone is actually in the room during the commercial or not in the bathroom or kitchen. And DVRs make the equation ever trickier.

Buying a paper doesn't guarantee your gets seen or read either -- and that's a challenge for the ad agency and the media agency in terms of ad content and ad placement so it gets noticed and read.

Online ads deal with similar challenges, I think. Everytime I open my email, I know there's an ad on the right. I never look at it. It's just part of the background noise to me. My eyeballs are on the site, but not on that part of the screen.

Lewis Green said...

I still love ink on paper but admit I only subscribe to the Sunday paper. That is because during the week, I read the NYT, CNN, and AP online. Let's not forget, however, that if enough eyeballs read online, papers survive with the additional advertising revenue stream adding to their bottom lines.

Bob Glaza said...

David - you are so right about the buzzword...engagement is a zany word to use. So far as ads grabbing anyone's attention? and then measuring them? Man, what a crap shoot!

LG - Advertising is not going away. Marketing isn't either. Nor are newspapers, magazines, radio, tv, mail, internet, mobile... Can it be as "simple" as how much is spent in and on each segment and demographic within the segment?

Simple does not equate to easy. This is a smashing time to be part of media, communications and - dare I say - publishing?!?! (as I push the "publish your comment" button)