Category Archives: Newspapers

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


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 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.

DataSphere: ‘Online Coupons Prove Value to SMBs’

Local media companies have increasingly zeroed in on smaller SMBs for growth. In many cases, however, they don’t have the resources to go after them. Enter DataSphere, which handles telemarketing, content and search optimization for its growing list of media company partners, while harnessing the media company’s local brand in each market.

The company was launched six years ago by former Amazon execs, and primarily works with TV station groups in 103 DMAs. The station groups include Gannett, Meredith, Cowles, Raycom, Fisher, Local TV, Morgan Murphy Media — and as of this month, Belo and Sinclair. Earier this year, DataSphere also launched services for Gannett’s Arizona Republic – its first newspaper. Adding Belo and Sinclair have provided a significant boost to the size of its network to 600 million page views a month.

DataSphere works with its partners on either a revenue share basis, or it buys space to place its inventory. Either way, the media partners don’t pay upfront and appreciate pure profit.

The 500 employee company, with offices in Seattle and Arizona, currently has over 20,000 SMB accounts through its partners. Each account is worth roughly $200 each on average, although the value of each account varies widely. Typical accounts come from such categories as restaurants, insurance, financial services, veterinarian hospitals, dentists and tree trimmers.

While the focus on SMBs has remained the same for the last 4 years, the offering has significantly changed. DataSphere’s initial efforts were centered largely on LocalNet, a platform for hyperlocal news content effort driving traffic to local blogs and SMB landing pages. LocalNet enabled DataSphere’s TV station partners to provide a more neighborhood-centric perspective.

Over time, the company has continued to provide a range of hyperlocal traffic drivers, including local event calendars and SMB landing pages. But it has expanded its anchor offerings to focus on coupons, which incorporate more tangible direct response components. Coupons in particular, clearly demonstrate value to SMBs, according to SVP Gary Cowan. “Unlike a news story, the beauty of coupons is that the content is the ad,” says Cowan.

Cowan notes that coupons are easily exposed beyond local media sites to a wide network of national coupon sites that localize, which includes such giants as The coupons also can be shown on multiple partners in a single market. In all, the DataSphere Coupon Network now attracts 40 million unique users a month.

The company’s coupon business also differs from traditional coupon leaders, such as Cox Target Media’s ValPak. “we offer a lower priced solution, which can be a better fit for many businesses,” says Cowan.

DataSphere’s marketing outreach, meanwhile, remains focused on telemarketing. Its 300-strong telemarketing sales force is based in Seattle and its growing Arizona office, with the majority of the growth planned for Phoenix. But the company is also doing more with self-serve advertising. The company learned from its roots in real estate leads that “self-serve develops warm leads,” says Cowan. “It leads to upsells for more extensive efforts.”

DataSphere SVP Gary Cowan appears on the Coupons section of the Deals Superforum at ILM West, along with ValPak President Michael Vivio and CEO Loren Bendele.

Newspapers’ ‘Wanderful Media’ Rethinks Digital Circulars

The consortium of 12 major newspaper companies that last year purchased Travidia, a digital circular vendor, has relaunched as Wanderful Media. The consortium, previously known as ShopCo., has committed $22 Million to the venture. It has also introduced a new tablet version of, a site that launched last year under the old Travidia regime.

FindnSave enables local newspapers to customize a host of promotions – i.e. deals, coupons, sales, classifieds, inventory — as a single presentation. CEO Ben Smith, a cofounder of Merchant Circle, says that FindnSave is the first of many products that the company hopes to launch. The company is working with 239 local media titles, and has a presence in 47 of the Top 50 markets. It hopes to soon reach 600 unique local websites (many brands have multiple sites).

Smith notes that he’s adding new technology and marketing smarts to the company, including 15 Silicon Valley based employees, who will take a “small team” approach to development. The company has 60 employees with the majority working at its production facility in Chico, CA, north of Sacramento.

The new product was developed based on extensive talks with its 42 national retailer clients. The lean back tablet experience of its new app promises to deeply engage its target customers, says Smith. “It is discovery shopping,” supported by the newspaper industry, which he reminds us, continues to grab $4 Billion a year in ad dollars from retailers.

Smith also cites research showing that the circular form factor remains more engaging than search or display ads for retail. Ultimately, he sees his job as updating the form factor and extending the accounts.