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Nancy Cawley Lane writes a blog about disruption in local media and her thoughts are
definitely worth the read. Check it out at https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/11309770
nnovation is alive and well at
some traditional media compa-
I recently attended the Fast Forward
Video Summit and the The Roundtable,
sponsored by Leap Media Partners,
Blue Venn and Newscycle. I also had the
opportunity to talk to dozens of media ex-
ecutives at those events. I was impressed
by many innovative projects going on in
our industry and wanted to share my top
11 in no particular order.
I am really inspired by the great work
going on at these companies.
An investment in video is really re-
quired now. According to Borrell Associ-
ates, by 2018 local advertisers will spend
as much on streaming video ads as they
will on local TV spots.
And the audience is growing in a big
way. YouTube’s Mark MacMaster told us
that 18-34 year olds watch an average of
142 videos per month on their platform.
That represents 9.8 hours per month with
an average watch time per video of 4.1
minutes. Progressive media companies
must make video a top priority.
Beyond video, events should be a
major focus. Start a division or expand
the one that you have. Our friends in Salt
Lake City (JOA between DFM and Deseret
Digital) bring in $7 million and growing.
Even very small markets are able to sell
several hundred thousand dollars. Hire an
events specialist and watch your revenue
Niche sites that operate outside of
traditional media offer great potential.
Everyone has something unique in their
market. Pick the best thing and own it.
Hire top talent away. Go well beyond your
own geographical footprint. Think college
sports, food, outdoors, tourist destina-
tions and more. Love what Cox is doing
with Dawg Nation!
The sales hiring and onboarding
process in our industry must change.
Gannett is making a major investment
in this area. Follow their lead and make
some changes. A bad sales hire can be
Finally, experiment with emerging
trends such as e-commerce. I am excited
about the Morris launch and really like
what Eric Bright has built at Deseret. This
gets us beyond banner ads and pre-rolls
(consumers hate both!) And it’s mobile-
It’s time to put innovation on the fast
track. During a tough year, it was thrilling
to see so much innovation in progress. I
can’t wait to track these companies and
monitor their performance. I know they
won’t all be home runs and some might
fail. That’s all part of an innovative and
disruptive culture. And these companies
all get it.
LMA President Nancy Lane
@localmediarocks • Nancy.firstname.lastname@example.org
11 Local Media Innovation
Projects to Watch
BuiltByLocal is a “media for equity” concept inspired by The Times of India. It is backed
by The Gazette/Source Media (Cedar Rapids, IA) and run by their former Vice President of
Innovation, Tim McDougall. They are taking on other media partners. This is a fantastic way for
media companies to own a piece of the start up community without investing large sums of money.
For more information, read this article from Ken Doctor, http://www.capitalnewyork.com/
Calkins Media has developed one of the most comprehensive video strategies in the
industry. They have sold over $500,000 in video advertising on shows such as GameOn (sports),
OnTap This Weekend, three update news shows and cooking/gardening topics. These are
sold mainly through sponsorships. The Courier Times was the first newspaper in the country to
launch on Roku and the first media company to launch on Amazon’s Fire TV. They also sell video
production services to local companies. This is a diversified and well thought out video strategy
that other media companies can replicate in their market. Great work going on here!
(Editor’s note: Read the Q&A with Calkins’ Guy Tasaka on page 2. It’s all about their ‘OTT’
GateHouse Media/New Media
GateHouse Media/New Media hired the guru of events Jason Taylor to lead their Las
Vegas operation and perhaps more importantly, to launch a major events division for the company.
This division will include both live and virtual events. At LMA, we’ve been bullish about the need to
double down on events and this is a great move by GateHouse/New Media. I’m thinking this could
represent $25-$50 million for the company in the next few years.
The McClatchy Company
The McClatchy Company has probably made the biggest investment of all when it comes
to video. They have hired 35 people, including Andy Pergam from The Washington Post, to staff
this new initiative (mainly in DC) and have invested seven figures. They built an enterprise-wide
video player and feature two players on each page of their web sites. So far they have quadrupled
their video views and they expect enhanced audience and revenue over time.
The Denver Post
At The Denver Post they have created DPTV and hired away a top anchor from a
broadcast station. (“Hire people with personal brands” was the theme of the week with Cox,
Calkins and DFM all reinforcing this strategy when it comes to video, producing TV shows and
developing niche sites.) They have doubled their effective CPM on pre-rolls over the past year and
now boast an average of $38.43. And like Calkins, they are in the process of launching a Roku and
Amazon strategy. Their best categories for video advertising are real estate and automotive with
service coming in third.
Morris Communications just launched a serious e-commerce strategy called LocaBuy.
This is an online marketplace that is decidedly local (and featuring mainly unique local products.)
The technology is coming from their partner Okanjo. For more information read this article on the
Morris web site:http://www.morris.com/blog/morris-publishing-group-launches-locabuycom-local-
ABC Stations, Cox Media Group,
Hearst, Media General and Raycom
ABC Stations, Cox Media Group, Hearst, Media General and Raycom have joined together to
form NewsOn. This is a TV news streaming service that can be used in any size market on platforms
such as Apple TV, Roku and desktop. So far 112 local television stations in 84 markets around the
country are participating. For more, visit:http://www.tvnewscheck.com/article/86115/newson-
Big Fish Works
Perhaps no company has changed their culture more than Big Fish Works (formerly Red
Wing Publishing). Owner Mark Poss told Roundtable attendees that it all started with the name
change. From there, he worked with the team to identify the company’s values and mission. They
then moved into new open and collaborative workspace (cool, hip environment that looks more
like a start up than a traditional media company.) During quarterly visits to every property, Poss
shares financial information (never did that in the past) as well as the goals for the 13-week period.
When he posted a recent job opening for a chief digital officer (which described the culture and
the ability to enact change), applicants from many of the leading media companies in the country
applied. He never had that kind of talent wanting to come to Red Wing, MN. Culture matters and
without the right one in place, nothing else will work. Kudos to Poss for leading this charge.
Cox Media Group
At Cox Media Group they have developed the “Innovation Initiative.” One of the first
projects to launch was Dawg Nation, a site dedicated to University of Georgia sports fans. They
are looking “to win Georgia and not just Atlanta” with this site. They have identified five ways
to monetize: traditional CPM; subscription level; sponsorships; products & services (including
newsletters); and an e-commerce engine.
So far they have made a $1.2 million investment (including a separate CMS) and already sold
their first $100,000 sponsorship. This is operating as a separate business unit to the Atlanta Journal
Constitution (leveraging the AJC brand when appropriate). Two more niche sites will be rolling out
in the near future. Check them out at:https://www.dawgnation.com
The Austin American Statesman
The Austin American Statesman launched an agency last year called the Statesman
Studio. There is a heavy emphasis on video. Two full time videographers were hired and they
started producing fifteen second to two minute business videos. They charge $500-$3000 for this
work and it has become a differentiator in the market. They are having success transitioning TV
heavy clients to digital video. And after one year, they are profitable.
At Gannett, they are disrupting their hiring and onboarding process for sales executives
in a big way. The rigorous plan starts with the recruiter spending 90 minutes on a call with the
top execs from the newspaper that has the opening (usually the publisher and ad director). The
recruiter even calls accounts that the rep will be handling. As for the prospect, they screen them
first with Challenger aptitude and digital aptitude tests. If that goes well, then they come in for the
actual interview process. At this point the goal is to “sell them before they sell us!” This is a new
philosophy. The interviews take place with the VP/Sales, the hiring manager and the HR business
partner. Once hired, a comprehensive onboarding system is now in place: e-modules are followed
by six weeks of training including foundations, sales coaching and sales application/insight selling.
So far 12 hires have been made and their profiles are far different than former hires. These changes
are part of Gannett’s world-class sales transformation strategy.
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