Category Archives: Newspapers

Digital First ‘Complements’ Cars.com with Tracking, Other Services

What does a newspaper company do when it loses its affiliation with a major vertical brand? That was the question for The San Jose Mercury News and some of the other Digital First Media papers on New Years Day, when the company’s partnership with Cars.com ended.

The Digital First newspapers knew that most car dealers wouldn’t want to abandon an existing relationship with a partner like Cars.com, a major source of leads and online presence. The answer? Change the value proposition that local car dealers had with the newspaper. For instance, it could complement the Cars.com relationship by developing a service agency-like model. Specifically,it could track where the dealers’ leads came from, and provide actionable information about these active car shoppers.

To this end, Digital First signed up with Cupertino-based TapClassifieds, and its growing, 15 person TapClassifieds Auto division. As part of its program, TapClassifieds evaluates websites, landing pages, text emails and credit applications as they come in. It also clean ups a dealer’s inventory to make landing pages more aesthetic, and to track results.

Tracking dealer results from Craig’s List – a major channel for dealer visibility and source of leads — has proved especially important. The site switched to a premium classifieds model Dec. 3, killing a dealer’s ability to “spam” the site –along with a dealer’s rivals. Consequently, dealers needed to review their efforts on Craig’s List, and pursue alternatives.

Another major task for TapClassifieds: make sure that listings on sites like Craig’s List and eBay Motors are compliant with their regulations. They must remain compliant with the site’s terms of use or see their accounts shuttered without warning or recourse.

“It’s a far cry from the old days, when people would just want to see inventory,” said TapClassifieds COO Jeff Herr, a longtime digital newspaper vet who left MediaNews Group two years ago to join the startup. “There are many, many tasks that you need to do to support the dealer. We are a service bureau.” Pricing for the service runs $15 per month per car, adds Herr.

Digital First has been testing the model with Bay Area auto dealers, and it has now announced a strategic partnership to take the program across all of its markets. DFM properties in Philadelphia, Connecticut, Texas and New Mexico are already up and running.

For TapClassifieds, Herr says that autos are the tip of the iceberg. RV Dealers, real estate and vacation rentals will each launch soon. “Real estate is unplowed Earth,” he notes.

SF Chronicle’s Cooper: ‘The Fight’ to Save/Remake Daily Journalism

The politics of keeping newspaper sites relevant in the social era are intense on all sides.

San Francisco Chronicle Managing Editor Audrey Cooper is in the thick of it. Cooper, who has been at The Chronicle for six years, has been in the news recently over a “Food Fight.” Specifically, how is a foodie-town like San Francisco going to cover the restaurant/food and lifestyle scene?

In an interview with San Francisco Magazine, Cooper notes that the restaurant reviews are “the most clicked on things” in the paper. And “chefs are like our local celebrities. But does our section get to that narrative,” even as it publishes four pages of recipes?

The Chronicle site and its companion SF Gate site are the best read news sites in the Bay Area with 17 million users. But “the fight to save daily journalism is like a bar fight,” she says. “We need to get more aggressive about change. And print readers don’t traditionally like changes a lot. But the status quo is not enough.”

Cooper adds that “there are a lot of blogs and specialty publications starting to gnaw at the edges of what we do. That’s true of tech coverage, real estate, food. If we just sit back, then they’re just going to eat us alive.”

We’re conducting a fireside chat with Cooper at our Interactive Local Media conference Dec. 10-12 in San Francisco. Register here.

The Newspaper Consortium, Emphasizing ‘Scale,’ Re-ups for Five Years

The seven year old Newspaper Consortium with Yahoo is getting a new lease on life as “The Local Media Consortium,” and is re-signing members to a new five year group deal that will seek out digital opportunities with Yahoo and additional technology and content players as they arise.

Under terms of the new deal, members may opt in and out at will, rather than facing penalties for withdrawal. All local media members will now also be able to join and participate across the board. Previously, TV stations were not given access to certain features.

Roughly 85 percent of the original consortium membership has re-upped, including McClatchy, Hearst Corp., Morris Communications, Digital First Media, Lee Enterprises Inc., Berkshire Hathaway’s BH Media Group Inc. and A.H. Belo Corp. There are also new members such as Deseret Digital Media and Ballentine Media. More members will be announced at the end of October. Combined together, the consortium represents over 200 million unique users and garners 1.7 Billion monthly page views.

By signing up for new terms, the newspaper companies are sending a clear message that they are making money via the consortium’s display ads and other activities. They also see many advantages to banding together and exploring mutual opportunities in a way that might be more efficient than building entirely new consortiums for various projects.

Newspaper products that have been developed outside the consortium in recent year, for instance, include such projects as Wanderful Media, a national shopping play; and the Zillow newspaper-real estate consortium.

We talked this morning with McClatchy VP of interactive media and Consortium Chairman Chris Hendricks, along with new Consortium Executive Director Rusty Coats, a longtime newspaper vet most recently with E.W. Scripps and Media General. “It is a much different approach,” says Hendricks.“This is more of a ‘cult of the willing.’ We are looking to see how we can collectively work together on multiple fronts. We are looking at the world through the prism of scale, which is what really matters.”

Over the years, Hendricks notes that Yahoo has been able to provide a number of functions to the Consortium, including ad serving, content and search. It has also been able to extend its audience for display ads. But the Consortium now wants to investigate more wide ranging “plumbing” functions with a wide range of players, plus content and ad exchanges, he says.

Gannett Digital Marketing Solutions Rebrands as G/O Digital

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Gannett Digital Marketing, the umbrella division of Gannett that includes ShopLocal, BlinQ, PointRoll, DealChicken, Key Ring and Clipper Magazine, relaunched today as G/O Digital. The new unit – which is adding a massive hub in a Chicago skyscraper, and is specifically kept separate from Gannettt’s media properties — is lead by longtime ShopLocal head Vikram Sharma. It also adds ecommerce vet Mark Maranacci (Edo, Google, Yahoo) as ShopLocal President, where he will lead the sales marketing team interacting with national brands and retailers.

The rebranding was announced today at ShopLocal’s 8th Annual Retail Summit in Chicago. Gannett CEO Gracia Martore, at the event, said that the effort is part of “transforming Gannett into an innovative media and marketing powerhouse,” scaling local audiences “to a national level.”

Staples SVP of U.S. Stores Alison Corchoran spoke about the value of having all the Gannett services under one roof. The company views Gannett as a major marketing partner, along with companies such as Constant Contact, Google, Groupon, LinkedIn, Facebook, Cheetah Mail and Mcgarry Bowen.

Corcoran noted that Staples now has 1,500 stores, but it isn’t about the stores so much as being a “b2b marketer” both online and in the stores. With the rise of search, Direct Mail, email marketing, social media, ecommerce and loyalty services, she noted that the goal posts have dramatically changed.

While Staples continues to focus on “easy,” “the meaning of ‘easy’ has changed. Retailers have more dots to connect. Gannett’s new focus on integrated offerings have really helped the Staples team get over the dual dilemma of being “very data driven but risk averse,” she says.

Local Onliner Bookshelf: The LMA’s ‘Innovation Mission 2013′

Sometimes there is no substitute for dropping in on industry leaders to exchange ideas and specifically, to find out how their efforts relate to yours.

That’s what our friends at The Local Media Association have been doing the last few years with their “Innovation Mission,” a tour of top companies and industry leaders that really impact their member base of small local publishers. This year’s tour was especially top-notch, with headquarters visits to Facebook, Twitter, Google, Plug and Play Tech Center, The Denver Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The McClatchy Company, AdTaxi and Emmis Radio.

BIA/Kelsey was pleased to be part of the tour, going up to San Francisco to present our vision of verrticalization, ecommerce and transaction marketing opportunities for publishers, along with FiveStars CEO Victor Ho.

The LMA’s Nancy Lane and Pete Conti have put together an excellent report of The Tour. We all tend to live and breath this stuff, but I personally learned a lot about native advertising, digital ad agencies and Twitter ad products. In fact, the report is a field guide to the key things that small publishers (and in fact, everyone) should be thinking about in terms of their digital and mobile transition. Non-LMA members can purchase it from this link for $479.

Newspaper Consortium Set to Relaunch Find & Save

The newspaper consortium-owned Wanderful Media is rolling out a retooled version of Find & Save, a shopping info site that it hopes will reinforce ties between the newspapers and the national retailers and brands that have traditionally driven their (estimated) $4 billion circular/insert business.

The new version is a localized shopping platform that boasts standard features throughout the country, including circular information, deals, grocery coupons, a nationwide partnership with eBay’s Milo.com for local inventory, and favorite picks by shoppers – a nod to social media.

Find & Save is available under each newspaper site’s “shopping” tab, but will also have a FindnSave app available on the iOS and Android mobile platforms this summer. It is up at more than 400 sites.

BIA/Kelsey talked with EVP Dave Thomsen about the new rollout and how it has changed since its originally rollout in December 2010. “Previous versions tried to do too much,” Thomsen noted. “We wanted to clarify our objectives for shoppers.”

Thomsen said that the company’s first objective was to get the big retailers up and running on the platform. But regional retailers are being added, and the plan is to add local Mom and Pops “later this year.” “We’ve learned that consumers begin shopping with one retailer in mind. But we want to surface other retailers,” says Thomsen.

In terms of the business model, the company will be rolling out a sponsorship/pay for placement model. “We can’t compete just yet with Amazon or Google,” notes Thomsen. “But we are focusing on the content discovery model, and what’s been successful for circulars.”

Centro’s Riegsecker on Local’s ‘Mid-Tail’ Opportunity

The Long Tail in advertising may be SMB-centric. The Short Tail may be ad agency centered media buying, which only go to the Top 100 sites on the Web. If that’s the case, the “Mid-Tail” comes from local publishers, suggests Centro Media CEO Shawn Riegsecker. But these publishers, which rely on high value journalist-based content and integrated advertising, have lately been “losing their shirts.” They can’t scale on the Web.

For Riegsecker, whose company operates an 80 newspaper affiliate reseller program, the answer lies in automation that places media across the board – a reliance on automation he’s been touting for years but that we’re increasingly hearing for local advertisers in search (The Search Agency) and display advertisers (Balihoo).

Centro has been growing quickly, and now sports a 300 person team. Half are based in Chicago and the other half are in 28 regional offices around the U.S. Lately, the company has been especially focused on rolling out a range of automation solutions for 575 mid-tier, independent agencies that represent 2,600 advertisers.

Two weeks ago, the company rolled out Centro Planner, a planning and buying module formerly known as Transis. Additional solutions will include a campaign planning operations tool and next year, a finance app that will feature invoice and billing reconciliation.

“They all link together and automate an ad agency’s entire lifestyle,” adds Riegsecker. “They support very healthy ad agencies for a very healthy ecosystem.” By reducing the emphasis on remnant/inventory that only account for 20 percent of overall agency business, Centro helps to release resources for agencies to do data analysis, hire statisticians, and move into social, native and content marketing, he says.