NNN Perspectives

The FSI platform is evolving in exciting new, more personalized ways

October 17th, 2013

CVS recently unveiled a new web based initiative that augments the special offers they have traditionally supported in newspaper circulars. With its MyWeekly custom deal service consumers are able to preselect those items or types of items that they are most interested in. This personalization minimizes the need to wade through special offers that don’t apply and allows CVS to establish a more active and regular interface with its customers. Tailored advertisements are a smart way to deepen relationships with consumers and establish a more meaningful process of extending offers and tracking results.

The challenge is that this initiative requires CVS to become a fairly regular destination for consumers.  In order for the system to work well it requires the user to interface with its technology on an ongoing basis to continually update buying habits. Email and text alerts have the capacity to become white noise if new discount alerts arrive in your in inbox too often. Today, the key to creating effective media platforms is flexibility and sensitivity to consumer barriers. With regard to FSI’s those who are beginning to have enhanced success are the marketers who have decided to experiment with the personalizing the platform. Instead of arranging all sale items by department, some are creating FSI’s that tell a story, that create ”life imagery” for their target audience. This past spring at the mediaXchange conference in Orlando, Steven Wolfe Pereira, EVP at Mediavest and lead on the Wal-Mart account discussed how through storytelling, inserts can have greater impact. When inserts are structured around a theme- say a summer beach party –  young moms have the ability to visualize how they can do something fun with and for their family and associate it a price point that’s approachable. Products featured within the insert may include staples , but they can also include items that the consumer hadn’t thought about buying, all assembled in a story-telling context that is appealing and in line with their wants and needs.

At NNN we are taking the concept even further and partnering with established content providers to add important perspective as to why the featured products are the ones they should buy. This strategy is especially valuable in the technology space where consumers are overwhelmed by all of the options available and are looking for a trusted and informed point of view.  In this example, by incorporating an authoritative voice into the messaging, FSI’s becomes more experiential and stronger sales tools. Sales strengthen as does the relationship a consumer has with the advertiser. Value becomes expressed in more ways than just price. Newspaper platforms continue to work best for retail because they operate as companions to the consumer, traveling with them throughout their day. The medium provides multiple access points for advertisers to reignite a conversation and inspire people beyond traditional advertising campaigns; personalization in the messaging enhances the path to purchase even more.

For more on the story click here.

The Local Media Consortium will be a game changer

October 14th, 2013

It seems that every day there is a new development within the world of newspapers that underscores the industry’s commitment to innovation and first to market products and services.  This strategy is working as adoption rates by both consumers and the ad community have continued to accelerate. These new ideas leverage the unique and powerful relationship that readers have with newspaper brands across platforms. As important as it has been to move forward with technology that enhances and expands user experiences on the consumer side, it has been equally important to create an ease of use for media buyers to build and execute local programs efficiently with scale. This week the newspaper industry announced a move forward in its commitment to do just that.

The former Newspaper Consortium is being relaunched and has been renamed The Local Media Consortium. Led by McClatchy’s Digital Chief Chris Hendricks and Rusty Coats, the Consortiums Executive Director, this new initiative will deliver up to 200 million monthly uniques and over 1.7 billion page views. As an industry solution it will tap into the expansive local sales force across the 700+ participating papers to provide sellers with the opportunity to execute even more sophisticated buys that connect with communities. Enhanced targeting, custom content, and video capabilities will broaden the ways in which sellers engage their clients. The potential is significant.

As we enter a time when clients are starting to bristle at the lack of transparency that comes with digital network buys The Local Media Consortium will offer cohesive opportunities with integrity and scale. This alone should make 2014 a year to watch.

For more, read here.

Technology is transforming print brands into viable shopping platforms

October 10th, 2013

Several years ago it seemed as though QR (quick response) Codes were going to revolutionize print and accelerate mobile as they had in Asia. When major magazines first began to test the technology back in 2006 and 2007 the clunkiness of the interface was something that gave advertisers pause. Many marketers weren’t sure what to serve consumers via this interface beyond coupons and there was some concern that these electronic coupons might not be honored at retail.   At the time this innovative marketing tool was viewed as more of a problem than an opportunity.

Since then the technology has advanced considerably.  Today the speed with which QR Code transactions occur is as fast any other digital app, and the utility that is available through back end software allows for QR Codes to be part of someone’s daily routine.

In print, a number of new “instant gratification” devices are emerging.  First there’s Wired magazine, through a partnership with MasterCard, Wired is allowing readers of the digital edition to purchase items mentioned within editorial or showcased within display advertising. This not only provides an instant value proposition to the reader, but also develops a new revenue stream that leverages the interest Wired builds among its readers in content centered around products. If successful, the model may expand to include other titles within the Conde Nast portfolio.

This kind of “instant gratification” is evolving in other ways with a company called Paydiant. They have created a scanning technology that allows users to redeem coupons off of a television screen or to buy things from a commercial or during a live broadcast.

Lastly, Peapod, the online grocer has developed a mobile app that allows the user to restock home staples simply by scanning the bar code of items that they have just finished. You finish a box of corn flakes, you scan the bar code, and tada! , the item is added to your shopping basket and delivered with your next order.

The innovation that these instant, ecommerce technologies can bring to the world of newspaper is extraordinary. Already newspapers have used QR codes more extensively than any other US content platform. Users expect and understand the benefits of this instantaneous technology. The potential that exists to take that experience into digital as Wired has done is substantial,  expanding  the application and leveraging the daily companion nature of newspaper platforms.

Soon the technology that consumers have before them will be somewhat symmetrical and standardized across applications. If someone is inspired to buy something that they are reading about they’ll be able to do just that. What will matter most is the content that they are drawn to. That content helps them better enjoy their lives, is trusted, and acts as a companion through their day is going to be the one that benefits most by this capacity to drive transactional revenue. In that scenario, newspaper is going to be hard to beat.

For more, read here.

The Dallas Morning News continues to innovate online

October 4th, 2013

One of the bigger debates online has centered on the concept of paywalls. Publishers across the content spectrum have long wrestled with how to best monetize their content in the digital world. The testing of paywall models has been most prevalent among print based brands. In both the magazine and newspaper space publishers have long relied on circulation revenue derived from single copy and subscription initiatives.  As display and mobile traffic have grown the interest in finding ways to build revenue beyond advertising has escalated as well. Paywalls have become a common device to do just that.

One of the first properties to step forward and test paywalls was The Dallas Morning News. This week they announced that they would be taking their paywall down and would move forward with a different model – one designed to meet the needs of all key constituents – edit, advertising, and of course the consumer.

Soon The Dallas Morning News will serve content to two different sites. One will be a free site that is accessible to the general public. The other will be a premium site where print as well as digital subscribers will enjoy exclusive access. There they will find content that is customized to the kind of stories they prefer. It will also include a loyalty program that offers special discounts on activities like the state fair and special exclusive access to DMN events. Arguably the biggest difference will be how populated each page is with advertising.

The intent is to limit the number ads served on the premium site, and to encourage those who do advertise to purse executions that are more customized and that enrich the total reader interface/experience. On the free site visitors will continue to receive the high caliber content they have become accustomed to and advertisers will continue to have a platform with scale.

To date, The Dallas Morning News has found that the current paywall didn’t generate enough subscription revenue and that most print subscribers liked having access to content on both platforms. This new two site approach is, in that sense, an evolution of the original model and one that is currently underway in Boston. If it works it may well pave the way to creating an industry standard.

Regardless, what the shift in Dallas demonstrates is that some of the most daring innovation on the web continues to takes place within the realm of newspaper brands. There, we continue to see publishers expand the boundaries of what seems possible by maintaining their own think tanks and idea labs.  As history has shown, when newspapercracks the code it sets standards that apply beyond their own industry.  With premium content on the web, the latest development in Dallas seems to indicate that a new standard is not that far out of reach.

For more on this story click here.

Major League Baseball says goodbye to a legend through newspaper

October 2nd, 2013

The NNN in partnership with the NAA recently commissioned a research study designed to measure the impact of sports editorial within newspaper platforms – as well as the power of the consumer that it attracts. The study found that newspaper sports sections have one of the strongest and most trusted voices among all media. Moreover, the consumer who turns to sports news through this platform is fiercely loyal and resides within a demographic that appeals to most major marketers. For more on the study click here:

So -when Major League Baseball (MLB) was looking for a powerful way to bid farewell to one of the finest to ever play the game – newspaper – emerged as their preferred platform.  Mariano Rivera is someone that baseball not only admires – it celebrates.  Beyond the records he set, Mariano embodies everything that we look for in a role model,- transcending the game of baseball itself. In turn identifying the best way to acknowledge his contribution to the game was critical. The final product that MLB decided upon was as classy as the man it honors.

Last week, MLB ran the above ad in USA Today, The Daily News, The New York Post, and Metro NY. The salute from MLB could have taken the form of a big splashy video spot on ESPN, Fox Sports, or something that aired during the NFL’s week four medley. It could have been a big digital and/or social initiative on Yahoo. It wasn’t. The sendoff was as classy and sophisticated as the man it celebrates. Moreover, it appears on a platform that delivers the highest concentration of loyal sports fans.

Newspaper offered MLB the perfect canvas, the most efficient delivery system and a targeted audience with scale. At a moment when news coverage of Rivera’s retirement was at full throttle, newspaper found a way to cut through the clutter and provide a hero with a proper good bye.

Newspaper stocks don’t tell the same old story

September 27th, 2013

Major newspaper companies like The Washington Post, News York Times and Gannet all are beating the S&P 500 index by a wide margin this year.  These anchor companies in an industry that is purported to be ‘dying’ are sending out a positive message for investors of today and tomorrow.

And that’s the key, looking to tomorrow for newspapers.  The past 10 years have shown decreasing circulation and a struggling industry. However, with heavyweight investors like Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet buying up over 60 newspapers in the past year, transformation for the business looks to be filled with more opportunities than threats.

Here are some keys to tomorrow’s success:

  • Be more than print. The Washington Post diversifies its income through several additional channels including broadcast and Kaplan education.
  • Go digital.  Just in the last quarter, The New York Times has shown a 40% YOY increase in paid digital subscriptions, increasing its total circulation by 5%.
  • Diversify.  Maximize and extend the strong community connection by building multiple touchpoints for newspaper brands.

Newspapers have the opportunity to push ahead and lead news consumption in the digital age by building brand connections with this generation and the next across platforms and devices.

Read what the Motley Fool has to say about newspaper stocks being the big thing this year.

Newspapers Work Best to Deliver Widespread Messaging Quickly

September 20th, 2013

By now, most of America has heard about the position Howard Schultz has taken with regard to firearms and his company.  Regardless of where you stand on the issue, what’s impossible to ignore is how newspaper got the word out quickly, effectively and wide.

Yesterday, Starbucks ran ads in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. Readers found an open letter from Schultz where he took a position on the issue of gun control and asked Starbucks patrons to refrain from bringing firearms into his stores – even within states where open carry is permitted.

This isn’t the first time that Schultz has used print newspapers as a bully pulpit. He ran ads after 9/11 and again last year to advance his position on job creation. When you look at the numbers, his strategy is incredibly effective. A Google search of “Howard Schultz Starbuck Guns” delivers almost 4 million results. Through one ad in four newspapers Schultz dominated the narrative for the day; some would argue the week.

This speaks volumes to the power of print and how provocative advertising can quickly make an impact with the newspaper  platform. The discourse this ad placement created will continue beyond the Sunday morning news programs and likely become a reference point for debate on the issue moving forward.  There’s little chance that a banner ad or a broadcast spot could make as much noise as quickly.

When it’s time to get the word out – there’s simply no better delivery system than newspaper. It simply works!

Read more here in AdAge.

Half of all mobile news consumers favor newspaper apps

September 11th, 2013

The Reynolds Journalism Institute just released their Digital Publishing Alliance Mobile News Consumption Survey which reflects what we have all known for some time now – newspaper apps in the mobile space are among the most popular. In fact, almost half of those consumers who use their smartphone to access the news download newspaper apps. That tops television, radio, or even general news services demonstrating once again that newspaper brands remain among the most powerful and trusted in the world.

It’s a confirmation of the fact that newspaper brands act as daily companions to the user. Throughout the day they find a wide range of information that helps them make better decisions, and lead more productive and enjoyable lives.

While tablet consumption of newspapers is strong, it’s smartphone usage that’s most impressive. There the case is made for how powerful these brands are and how they operate as part of a person’s daily life – always by their side. For marketers this creates extraordinary opportunities. More than ever, the mobile newspaper platform will allow major advertisers to employ targeted solutions that provide in the moment user engagement. This focused approach can be built with a scale and symmetry of content and design that delivers meaningful results for marketers in the moment.

The dynamic between newspaper editors and their readers has always been strong. As technology has advanced that connection has only become amplified  Those major market brands that place messaging within this exchange as it unfolds are the ones that will earn an edge within their competitive set and build a consumer relationship that can last a lifetime. There’s no question about it.

For more on this story, read Lucia Moses piece in Adweek here.

Jeff Bezos makes his first trip to The Washington Post today

September 3rd, 2013

In his first interview since the news broke that he had purchased The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos is offering insight into what his plan will be moving forward. The exchange conducted by phone from Seattle over the weekend has generated a lot of excitement from the Post staff, the industry, and the ad marketplace.

While he is not yet prepared to offer a concise and detailed game plan for what he intends to do with the brand, the thoughts he shared provide awareness into what the next few months will look like. “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient,” he said. “If you replace ‘customer’ with ‘reader,’ that approach, that point of view, can be successful at The Post, too.”

In the coming days Bezos is meeting with senior executives in an effort to begin to better understand the newspaper business. Bezos intends to offer a point of view as discussions take place on how the business model should evolve but at the moment his biggest contribution, as he says, will be the breathing room he gives the brand financially as they develop their course.

For more on what’s happening at The Post this week, click here.

Going head to head in Long Beach

August 20th, 2013

Over the past few weeks there has been a sizeable amount of attention placed on the newspaper industry. Granted, newspapers have certainly received their fair share of coverage over recent  years as their business challenges have grown.  What is different now is that the attention being paid to the medium has been largely positive. With the sale of both The Boston Globe and The Washington Post major media pundits and advertisers began to once again debate the future of newspaper. But this time it was impossible to ignore the inherent power of newspaper brands and the crucial role they play within the communities they serve. Where the conversation had centered before on how much longer most brands could hold on, current conversations are focused on where they could go, how they could evolve, and at times the discourse even moved to how newspaper could lead. It’s been a terrific moment for the industry.

This week the narrative continues. In Long Beach California, Freedom Communications, publisher of The Orange County Register, launched a brand new property. The Long Beach Register debuted yesterday and is positioned directly against The MediaNews Group’s Long Beach Press-Telegram. Suddenly this Los Angeles area market is a two newspaper town and the healthy competition that emerged has directed conversation away from major metro properties to community news services.   There are a lot of people making big bets on newspaper brands, and in the case of Freedom it’s for good reason.

Eric Spitz, president of Freedom wrote an op-ed piece in Monday’s Wall Street Journal and walks the reader through his over-arching business strategy. Freedom has shifted a good amount of the financial burden of reporting the news from the advertiser to the reader.  This change helps demonstrate a sense of reader wantedness and better supports its value proposition to advertisers. The strategy is working. Circulation and ad revenue have both grown and this has helped support the sizeable investment Freedom made in staff, product development, and launches.

If their investment in Long Beach continues to succeed, it will serve as another a testament to the power of the platform. A category only exists when there is more than one player in the space and for anyone involved in the newspaper business, it is great to watch a new brand enter the market. If both papers thrive as a result of the added attention the market receives then it’s good for the medium everywhere.  The conversation can then transition from how these newspaper brands impact and serve their local markets to how advertisers can benefit from put their messaging in the middle of that important exchange.

Read what the local LA tv station is saying about the launch.