Tag Archives: McClatchy

Newspapers Going Private Label Route for Deals

McClatchy Newspapers surprised everyone last July when it opted to let the fox into the chicken coop by signing up with Groupon for local deals.

At the time, McClatchy Interactive head Chris Hendricks saw it as a net plus for both companies. “They’ve got their space,” but McClatchy offered Groupon more “entry points” to readers and deals, he noted.

Tellingly, Hendricks also said that the limited commitment was a net plus. “We have a lot of stuff going on,” said Hendricks. “An affiliate marketing program fits in better,” and “lets us get out of the gate.” Similar logic was apparently used by Media General and Tribune, which signed with Groupon around the same time.

Now, McClatchy appears to have found its sea legs in the deals space. While it will apparently maintain a relationship with Groupon, it has opted to invest heavily in the white label route via Second Street Media’s Deadline Deals platform, which now serves over 150 publishers.

In a statement, Hendricks said –without commenting on the fate of its relationship with Groupon — that a private-label deals platform is a perfect fit with FindnSave, Travidia’s deals-and-offers portal that will eventually launch in 21 of McClatchy’s 28 markets. FindnSave pairs daily deals with other offers, such as weekly sales, coupons and grocery cents off offers.

McClatchy isn’t the only newspaper company with news in the deals space. Hearst Newspapers announced last week that it would join Media News Group and Freedom Interactive as partners of Analog Analytics, which says it now serves 850 local media properties. Freedom’s Orange County Register recently did over $188,000 on one deal (a heavily discounted boat ride to Catalina Island).

Group Commerce Inc., similarly, recently announced a deals partnership with The New York Times Co, among other media companies.

New Era for Local Shopping Portals; Travidia Launches ‘FindnSave’

Shopping portals have moved beyond “federated search,” and now combine the best of daily deals, coupons, weekly ads and other promotional information in ways that are more efficient — and drive more shopping.

At the national level, Gannett’s ShopLocal.com has been moving in this direction for some time. At the local level, we’ve recently seen the launch of Local.com’s multi-pronged shopping portal. The daily deal and coupon aggregators such as The Deal Map, 8Coupons, Deal Radar and Yipit probably also qualify as shopping portals, too.

New to the game is FindnSave.com, an effort by Travidia, the digital media vendor that works with 700 newspapers. Two McClatchy sites are currently launched: The Sacramento Bee and The Kansas City Star. Next up are McClatchy newspaper sites in Charlotte, Fort Worth, Fresno and Tacoma.

Travidia Chief Marketing Officer James Green says the newspaper sites have seen an immediate and dramatic increase from their previous shopping areas, which had a lot of information but were not presenting shopping information as efficiently. “They caused consumers to go off in a million directions,” he notes. “Consumers just want the best deal, regardless of the source.”

With newspapers, however, one size doesn’t fit all, Green emphasizes. Some newspapers have different vendor deals locked in, while others want to emphasize different types of information. Both The Sac Bee and KC Star, for instance, feature Groupon deals, Milo.com inventory information and standard features such as a Twitter board of local shopping Tweets.

But The Sac Bee also opted to include online coupons, while the KC Star opted out of online coupons. Such customization isn’t always easy to pull off: most shopping related vendors don’t have an API that can make them easier to plug in their feed.

The result is that FindnSave has been developed as more of a customizeable platform, rather than a turnkey site. Its primary feature is the development of “search blocks” that are integrated on top of the database, and extract relevant information.

Is it better than the competition? Green believes that FindnSave has a competitive edge via the newspapers’ localized information, plus the deep integration of the platform. Eventually, it will integrate various types of shopper-related content as well, such as local shopping blogs, ratings and reviews.

Another asset cited by Green is FindnSave’s easy verticalization, which can be used to create entirely new online vertical properties. The Sac Bee , for instance, is using the product to create a dedicated grocery portal. The portal will feature a slightly different User Interface, as well as a combination of newspaper and syndicated content.

Ultimately, FindnSave has been “ten years in the making for us,” says Green. “It’s been a natural evolution. The bottom line is we are not trying to facilitate e-commerce; we are trying to facilitate in-store traffic.”

Sacramento Emerges as ‘Ground Zero’ for Blogger Networks

The Sacramento area is fast becoming Ground Zero for local blog networks. McClatchy’s Sacramento Connect, a project carved from The Sacramento Bee, is a content connector for 70+ area blogs and websites. It first started incubating last summer, and was fully in place by March.

Connect, which is sub-titled “best of the local Web,” can be personalized for personal tastes a la Fwix. It primarily offers blogs more visibility and traffic, but there is no payment plan. Connect is also doing some cross-publishing based on the aggregated content, starting with a recently published Happy Hour Guide.

The Sacramento Press-related Sacramento Local Online Ad Network (SLOAN), on the other hand, is a network of 31 local blogs and sites powered by Cox’s Adify, a vertical ad network publisher. It is geared towards providing a cable TV-like regional interconnect among local bloggers to build up a base of advertisers. It gets more than 540,000 unique visitors and seven million impressions, and pulls in a CPM listed at $18.

Many of the Sacramento area blogs apparently take part in both networks (and many still have not joined either – The Connect team has ID’d 400 Sacramento area blogs). “I think it is an important step for The Bee to take a leadership position in building a healthy local media ecosystem in Sacramento,” says Ben Ilfeld, Co-founder of Sacramento Press and SLOAN. “It proves they are serious about collaboration rather than strictly competition.&#8221.

Ilfeld adds that his team is currently expanding the concept to the Bay Area, where The Bay Area Publishers Partnership (BAPP) is being developed. “The Bay doesn’t have the same level of clear leadership,” he says. “There is no “’Sacramento Connect’ option for those publishers. I would like to bring the same technology (its a meebo widget) to our publishers there on top of our ad network.”

Groupon, McClatchy Team for Daily Deals in 28 Markets

Groupon announced today that it will work with McClatchy, the third largest newspaper chain, in 28 McClatchy markets. The rollout begins this month in Sacramento and Kansas City. Other McClatchy markets will be added over the next several months, possibly including titles in Ft. Worth, Miami, Charlotte and Raleigh.

Like Living Social’s earlier deal with The Washington Post, the deal is based on McClatchy’s powerful local promotion capabilities. Groupon deals will be promoted throughout newspaper websites in contextually relevant sections (i.e. dining). Print promotion, however, is not part of the deal at this point. Sales also aren’t part of the deal, which is non-exclusive. Other media companies can sign with Groupon both in McClatchy markets and outside of it.

Groupon appears very likely to announce other local media deals in the near future – a likelihood driven by the efforts of Business Development VP Sean Smyth, a longtime local media vet with Tribune, Metromix and other local media companies. In general, there is recognition that Groupon has developed a presence in several McClatchy markets without any brand assistance. Groupon will, however, develop custom versions specifically for McClatchy readers.

At our Marketplaces conference last March in San Diego, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason said that his early vision was to team with The Chicago Tribune, his hometown paper. But he soon realized that Groupon could roll out faster and with more editorial independence by working solo and relying primarily on telesales. Now, Groupon expects to surpass The Tribune’s circulation in Chicago by year end. But evidently, newspapers local promotion capabilities remain a strong incentive for partnerships.

McClatchy VP Chris Hendricks tells us that he sees a net plus for both companies by helping promote Groupon. “They’ve got their space,” but McClatchy offers Groupon more “entry points” to readers and deals, he says.

The deal also enables maximum flexibility for both companies. Conceivably, the Groupon deals could be included in a product suite, he says. The limited nature of the deal, and limited commitment, is also seen as a plus. “We have a lot of stuff going on,” says Hendricks. “An affiliate marketing program fits in better,” and “lets us get out of the gate.”

McClatchy Teams with WebVisible to Target SMBs In 29 Markets

McClatchy Co., the third largest newspaper entity with 30 newspapers in 29 markets, including The Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee, will aggressively target SMBs in each of its markets via an extended deal with WebVisible. The deal, per release, “will help local advertisers provide the most efficient way to get found by customers no matter how they’re looking – in newspaper listings, newspaper web sites, or search engines, or via mobile phones or navigation devices.”

The company has had a long relationship with WebVisible, offering services in Kansas City, Tacoma, WA, and Fresno. But now it is pulling out all the stops. Anchorage and Charlotte have already been added; the next phase will include Boise, Miami, and Sacramento. By December, the roll-out will encompass all 30 daily newspapers in 29 U.S. markets.

McClatchy VP of Strategic Development James Calloway tells us that McClatchy’s sales forces have seen a dramatic increase in advertisers demanding help for getting into search marketing. “There is a learning curve. It is a different state of mind,” he says. But McClatchy’s papers that have been working with WebVisible have “done well.”

Calloway says a key to getting it right has been to offer advertisers an option of going with either a guaranteed click model or a budget based model offering a range of services for a fixed amount. Over time, he sees the guaranteed model fading. But “we basically need to cover it,” he says.

Calloway’s gut feeling is that the offering will take some time to develop in each market, but that it will get decent numbers from the get-go and will continue to grow over time. It will be part of a broader package, he says. The WebVisible effort is being supported by McClatchy’s five person local market development team, which is based in Miami. They work on a a SWAT team basis, in which they hit a market, get it going, and move on to the next one. They are tasked with in-market sales training, and ramping up revenue.

WebVisible recently raised $20 million, and has raised over $37 million in all, as it competes against other third party SMB sales companies such as ReachLocal, Yodle, Marchex and Orange Soda.

NAA 2009: McClatchy Seeing 15% of Ad Revenues from Online

Speaking at The NAA Annual Convention in San Diego, McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt says that his company is operating the leading local Internet business in each of its daily newspaper markets. Among the company’s top markets are Miami, where it publishes The Miami Herald; Sacramento, where it publishes The Sacramento Bee; Kansas City, where it publishes The Kansas City Star; and Charlotte, where it publishes The Charlotte Observer.

In all, Pruitt says the company will get 15 percent of its ad dollars from online this year, or nearly $200 million. The newspaper industry “deserve(s) credit for the considerable progress we’ve made online,” adds Pruitt. “The U.S. newspaper industry generated $3 billion in digital revenue last year.”

Topix CEO on Site’s Evolution as a Local Portal

When Topix first came on to the scene in 2003, it primarily crawled local news. These days, the 30-person company has largely remade itself into more of a local portal, especially for smaller markets. It still isn’t profitable, but CEO Chris Tolles says it delivers a lot of upside to its primary owners: Gannett, Tribune and McClatchy.

The company largely started its evolution a couple of years ago with the launch of user comments and user submitted news, both of which complement the news crawl. As the company has gained users and frequency, it has also added such features as Yellow Pages and classifieds.

The portal strategy is certainly different than simply powering the local news crawl for newspaper sites. In fact, just 30 percent of its traffic currently comes from partners, says Tolles. (Besides the owner newspaper companies, other partners include Media News Group, ESPN, Sprint’s WiMax portal, CNN and vertical sites such as Trulia , Eventful and Simply Hired). “We are the only game in town if you want to license local news,” he says.

Most of the action,, however, is centered around the destination site, despite some false starts. “Early on, we put out a lot of things around local that didn’t work,” concedes Tolles. “We didn’t have enough traffic. But it makes more sense with 100 million page views. Our traffic has quadrupled, and the experience is better.”

Moving into marketplaces – Yellow Pages and classifieds — has been an especially logical move. It has been largely spearheaded by Tolles and former InfoUSA and Yahoo! Local executive Dave Galvan, who is Topix’s VP of business development.

The classifieds part of the site has actually been up for quite a while, says Tolles. “It is not a major portion of what we are doing – it is a competitive market – but it is part of a larger effort” to support the site’s local power.

Meanwhile, Yellow Pages, powered by listings from InfoUSA, has been up for six months. “We’ve got millions of page views, and it is growing 15 percent, month-to-month,” says Tolles. Still, expectations for the YP product are downplayed. Yellow Pages in itself “is not a major destination,” he says. But it is unique in providing listings in a local context. “Nobody has our reach on the net. We have engagement from 20,000 cities and towns every month.”

The site also has had some success localizing national advertisers, including political advertising. “We were the number one site for McCain in June” via Google’s ad sales says Tolles.

“Local local” political advertising also has some promise, given Topix’s zip code orientation. But it really hasn’t amounted to much yet. “There is huge commentary around sheriff races, things like that. But there is not a lot of local advertising from those guys, or from state-wide races either.”