Home' Local Media Today : April 2015 Contents 8 | LOCAL MEDIA TODAY | April 2015
Have You Transformed Your Business?
lark Gilbert, CEO of Deseret News and Deseret
Digital Media, has a growing sense of frustration
that much of the energy, talk, and even gritty
hard work across the industry is missing this fundamen-
tal question. Is it possible that within five years, many of
the once great institutions in our industry are looking at a
future where survival, not leadership, is increasingly the
goal? The failure to fundamentally transform our underly-
ing business model is leading to a failure to lead according
During a recent LMA 45-minute webinar, which was
the highest attended in the past year, Gilbert expanded
his thoughts and shared some of the lessons learned at
He based this on five years of transformation in real
Gilbert’s frustration is that some media companies
are not really driving the type of change needed for our
There are many smart people in the industry working
really hard but you need to look hard at these numbers:
1. 11% — What percentage of digital revenue will you
accept? Borrell Associates estimates that 11 percent is the av-
erage contribution by digital marketing to the total revenue
of local media newspaper companies. Our own LMA survey
of members in December supported this number. Gilbert
said, “11 percent will not transform your business.”
2. 33% — Thirty-three percent of your revenue should
come from digital is what Gilbert believes. He mentioned
some of the really great work being done at McClatchy, and
the New York Times in terms of digital revenue.
Ask yourself, where is my company today and what do
you expect your company’s share of digital revenue to be
in the next few years? Will you be hovering at 11 percent or
capturing the 33 percent of digital revenue in your market?
3. 50% — Fifty percent reflects the percentage of your
digital revenue that should be tied to display advertising.
Gilbert took a radical hiring
approach. He brought in lots
of people on his team from
ecommerce businesses, not
the publishing industry. These
people don’t live in a publish-
ing centric model – they live in
an ecommerce model.
Display based digital
should not be more than half.
It needs to be ecommerce or
marketplace revenue. You can’t
survive on display.
4. 60% — The next ques-
tion Gilbert asks is what percentage of this revenue is mobile
ready? How much of your business is based on your desktop
or mobile ready? Sixty percent should be mobile ready he
contends if you want to position yourself for the future.
5. 15% — If you’re not growing at 15 percent a year
you are not keeping up. When DDM was created, they
created three media channels (broadcast, newspaper and
digital). At the same time, Deseret let legacy sellers continue
to sell digital. And, they saw growth in digital on the news-
paper side grow to about 15 percent. As soon as an account
rep hit this level, growth stopped. The incentive just was not
there. They eventually moved all accounts to digital team
and don’t allow the newspaper to sell digital anymore.
If you’re growing digital at only one percent annu-
ally, you’re missing out. The digital universe is growing in
double digits. So how do you hit a new maximum of what
It is amazing to Gilbert that newspapers still do not
have digital-only sellers. A recent study of LMA members
by Borrell Associates shows that only 50 percent of mem-
bers have a digital-only rep. The data clearly shows that the
newspapers that do have a digital-only rep on staff raise
their digital income three-fold.
At the same time, legacy has since improved their
performance now that they are not selling digital (because
they’re focused on the value proposition of print).
The parable of the 11th floor – Three years ago a legacy
rep took Clark Gilbert in to see the biggest auto dealer in
the state – he went to try and regain their lost business.
Gilbert asked if they could contact the dealer’s agency to
discuss their digital advertising. They replied they have no
outside agency It’s all done in house, on the 11th floor. It
was the first time anyone at Deseret heard of the 11th floor.
Once they started selling direct into this type of client, they
got to a new maximum. Now, this client buys more digital
advertising from DDM than all other competitors com-
6. O% — This is the amount of time that DDM people
spend time thinking about how to preserve legacy business.
They walk-in thinking about how to grow reach to their
audience online. What is our business online? You have
to decide what is the job to be done. For example, how do
people consume your product and why?
So look at the numbers here and run yours. And then
ask yourself, where will I be in five years?
The full video of the webinar and a PDF of the presen-
tation are available at our website – Webinars > Archived
Sales & Marketing
Want to brainstorm an idea? Hear about the LMA
sales training options? Share an opinion? Reach me
at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-360 -9434.
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The data clearly shows that
the newspapers that have a
digital-only rep on staff raise their
digital income three-fold.
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