As print revenues shrink, the major news companies haven’t been very successful in leveraging their core local competencies (audience, markets, technology). A.H. Belo, the publisher of The Dallas Morning News, is working to shake that notion, with key investments in digital marketing and ad agencies. Among its services are Speakeasy, which works with national and regional brands; and 508 Digital, which is a local Dallas-area firm that licenses Hearst’s LocalEdge platform.
These divisions are taking a different route than other efforts that focus on SEO. They include such things as sponsored maps, contests, entertainment listings and exclusive content for small targeted groups. While typical newspaper advertisers such as restaurant chains, retailers and auto dealers are listed among their clients, A.H. Belo is also roping in new advertisers that are targeting locally, such as medical testing companies.
Belo’s digital ad and marketing revenues now comprise 31.8 percent of total ad and marketing revenues – up 20.9 percent year to year. Altogether, its non-print activities in 2Q generated $40 Million, fully subsidizing its losses from the remaining print properties. The company reported $18-20 Million from digital revenues in 2013.
At that time, Chairman Jim Moroney III noted that “the strategy is to start with relevant content the pulls the user in rather than a typical push model. Talk with the audience rather than shout at them.”