Tag Archives: Newspapers

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 FindnSave.com, 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.

New Newspaper Consortia Rolls out Shopping Platform; Acquires Travidia

A big chunk of the newspaper industry has banded together to adopt Find n Save, a shopping platform featuring a single place to review deals, product inventory, weekly specials, “cents off” grocery deals and local ads.

Participating newspaper companies include many of the companies participating in the Yahoo search and national advertising consortia and the Zillow real estate consortia. They include Gannett, Media News Group, McClatchy, Advance, Hearst, Cox, A.H. Belo and The Washington Post. More than 200 newspaper titles are involved in all.

Find n Save was launched last year by Travidia, a newspaper services vendor that has specialized in digital conversion of circular ads as well as directory solutions. The consortia is purchasing Travidia as part of the deal.

The conversion of the multi-billion dollar newspaper circular business to the digital age has been a tough one, although potentially lucrative. Chains such as Radio Shack, Target, Frys Electronics and others have increasingly looked to spend outside of traditional newspaper channels as print circulation has declined.

Moreover, the way that shoppers look for information has dramatically changed due to the ability to search for specific products and deals on the Internet. Most online circular solutions have not been fully searchable.

Early versions of Find n Save have tried to meet these changes by offering a one stop, fully-searchable solution. The concept has been especially championed by McClatchy. As of today, the initial launch of Find n Save is live in 19 markets, and will be in 21 markets by the end of the year.

For the newspaper industry, the question has been whether to get behind Find n Save, or Gannett-owned ShopLocal, which has many national accounts and has been similarly evolving. Gannett’s participation in Find n Save suggests they will seek to form a complementary solution. Another shopping solution that may prove complementary is AP’s iCircular product, which is oriented towards mobile users and may be seen as experimental.

To lead the new company, Find n Save has recruited former Yahoo Consortium leader Chris Tippie, who tells BIA/Kelsey that the advantage of the broad consortium is that it provides a truly national footprint, which is vital for circular advertisers. “Our goal is to have a Find n Save presence in every market in the U.S. For us, it is imperative to provide consistent delivery, uniform measurement and ease of engagement across all of our affiliate markets,” he says.”National retailers have been asking for this for some time.”

Tippie also says that it is much better that a one stop shopping approach be offered, even though deals, grocery coupons, inventory and national product ads might seem like unrelated items that newspapers just happen to sell.

“It is absolutely critical,” says Tippie. “Local newspapers provide terrific service to local retailers, and they provide a variety of different products. These are revealed to local shoppers in a variety of mechanisms. This provides a single interface that is searchable and optimized.”

Tippie also emphasizes that local affiliates have a lot of leeway around such issues as sourcing local deals. “We don’t provide a daily deals product,” he notes. “We just make it better” by aggregating and optimizing them. Sacramento’s Find n Save, for instance, had been providing both Groupon deals and local newspaper deals.

One part of the shopping solution that will require more work to be fully integrated is a local retailer directory. Some newspapers are earning revenue from enhanced directory listings, including one developed by Travidia that will continue to be sold by Find n Save. These will likely to continue to be developed locally by each company.

Whether Find n Save is ultimately successful depends on a number of factors. The biggest is whether the national retailers will adopt the platform and switch their circular budgets to it. Many have been developing their own capabilities.

For McClatchy Digital head Chris Hendricks, Find n Save represents a new beginning for newspapers. “It is pushing what we want to do as an industry,” he told us. “We are working together to develop solutions that work for advertisers and consumers.” Hendricks envisions future iterations, for instance, in the tablet space.

NYT’s Zimbalist at Inman: Everything Must Sync

Michael Zimbalist, who runs R&D at The New York Times Co., told Inman Real Estate Connect attendees in San Francisco yesterday that the rise of social networks has spearheaded a very real shift from “the paradigm of publishing to the paradigm of communicating.”

“The consumer is squarely at the center,” said Zimbalist, noting that there are now more global users of social networks than even email. “Time spent using email has completely flattened out.”

The new paradigm has lead to a change in overall behavior, with users now active creators of content. “Every minute, 20 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube,” he said. Mobile is also integrated into everything.

The implications for the publishing and software industries are that they have to plan for multi-purpose devices and services and incredibly rapid innovation. “We are seeing a Cambrian explosion of evolution,” said Zimbalist. Many things are coming up, and some don’t make it.

Features that have been seized upon include search with voice, location, image recognition, multi touch, augmented reality and “gestural navigation” such as WII game devices. To stay abreast, it is critical that publishers and software producers work to sync everything at all times.

Regarding the iPad, Zimbalist took note of an audience member’s disappointment with The New York Times initial iPad app, which is just a “best of” product (I like it, actually). A new premium version will come out soon. Addressing rumors that it will be priced as much as $360 a year, Zimbalist only joked that users will “definitely pay more” than they do for The Wall Street Journal iPad app.

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.”

ComScore’s Top 10 Online Newspaper Companies (By Usage)

Newspapers aren’t doing well, but they still represent one of the leading ways to reach audiences, online as well as in print. New data from ComScore Media Metrix, apparently released to coincide with Editor and Publisher’s Interactive Media Conference taking place in Las Vegas, showed that 57 percent of Internet users in the U.S. looked at a newspaper site in May at home or at work.

The New York Times is the leading online brand, thanks in part to its national footprint. Also receiving significant national traffic is USA Today, which is #4 among the newspaper groups; The Washington Post, which is #5; and The Wall Street Journal, which is #10. More in the realm of local pure plays are Tribune (#2), Advance (#3), McClatchy (#6), MediaNews Group (#7), The New York Daily News (#8) and Hearst Newspapers (#9).

ComScore also notes that the average CPM on online newspaper sites was $7, which is nearly three times the average CPM rate, which is $2.52.

Outside of top knowledge worker markets such as New York and Washington, we aren’t sure that 57 of 100 Internet users would say “sure” if we asked whether they read the online version of a newspaper in the last month (Anyone want to do my “train station platform” test?) But the statistics have been consistent, and suggest a possible second life for the newspaper industry.

Living Social Adds $14 Million, Teams with Washington Post

On the heels of Groupon’s $135 Million round (and $1 billion valuation), Living Social has stepped up to the plate with a new $14 million C round, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with U.S. Venture Partners, Grotech Ventures and Steve Case’s Revolution, LLC participating. The new money gives Living Social a total of $39 million to match its Daily Deal against Groupon, and 150 + other deal-a-day entities that have emerged in their wake.

The new money will be used to rapidly expand Living Social’s reach. While it doesn’t come close to the full Groupon investment, it may actually equal Groupon’s budgeted spending, since a lot of that money has been designated to pay back investors and founders.

Living Social is currently in 14 markets and adding four more: Portland, Orange County, Charlotte and Philadelphia. Dozens of markets are expected to be launched by the end of the year. This count is compared to 50 markets served by Groupon, which says it will be in 100 markets by year-end.

Living Social CEO and co-founder Tim O’ Shaughnessy, a former AOL executive, tells us that the company has realized that The Daily Deal is “an opportunity that needs to be fed.” While the DC-based company’s origins are in social Facebook apps such as Virtual Bookshelf, the Daily Deal is now getting ”the majority” of the company’s attention.

O’Shaughnessy also says that while the guts of the daily deal offers may be quite similar from company-to-company, he believes that Living Social is differentiated in several important ways: one, it puts feet on the street in each of its markets, instead of relying on telemarketing. There is at least one salesperson in each market, he says.

Another differentiator is that the company is beginning to launch in large suburban markets, such as the San Fernando Valley outside of Los Angeles, and Escondido outside of San Diego. O’Shaughnessy believes the suburbs have their own appeal to consumers. Some users may choose to get a suburban offer for routine bids, and a metro offer for weekend fun, he suggests. That’s one way to boost the amount of inventory, he says.

“We’re looking at getting more hyperlocal. We are getting a good volume for most of the merchants we’re working with in smaller (population) centers.”

A third differentiator is Living Social’s viral effort, where consumers receive their coupon for free if they get three friends to sign on from a provided custom link. The”Sell 3, Get 1″ offer has been available from the get-go, says O’Shaughnessy, with certain categories outperforming others on a regular basis.

While Living Social is launching solo in most of its markets, it also has attracted local media partners, such as The San Francisco Weekly and The Washington Post. The Post deal was made two months ago with Living Social, which is headquartered in DC. It is based on a revenue share. It doesn’t utilize Post sales teams, but will eventually offer deep integration of the Daily Deal into the paper’s local content, including its metro pages, its sports pages and going out guide.

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.