Home' Local Media Today : February 2013 Contents 10 | LOCAL MEDIA TODAY | February 2013
Digital agencies are attracting
publishers like refrigerator
magnets. So, what’s all the fuss
about? Already, about a quarter
of LMA-member newspapers
say they have a “digital agency,”
with about 15 percent more
forecasting to come on-line in
the next six months.
But, already we have seen a
few digital agencies beat a hasty
retreat and we haven’t had more
than a handful of big success
stories to report... yet. Our
industry demands returns in less
time than it takes for Domino’s
to deliver, so it may not be that
surprising that the necessary
patience and resources needed
to insure success may wane.
If you only have one foot in the agency door, the results will be
disappointing. One alarming response from LMA members surveyed
is that only 7 percent of their digital agencies have been developed as
a completely separate brand or staff. Which means the remainder are
just stylistic makeovers: reinvigorated account executives with new
business cards. This represents a lukewarm effort at best.
A great opportunity is presenting itself to the newspaper industry
and some are taking the same view of it that they may have had with
online and mobile: an interesting fad, “maybe we can spend a little
and make something out of it.” But, fortunately, we have seen many
others who seized the opportunities and challenges of growing a new
A digital agency can mean a new and substantial revenue stream.
One that will replace the long lost classifieds and even shelter you
from the storm of diminishing preprints. In our latest LMIA report,
“Digital Agency Services – Industry Update,” (you can order it at
- - http://tinyurl.com/LMIAorder) LMA President Nancy Lane has
profiled two digital agencies to see how they are doing. They are
capitalizing on a marketing services industry that, according to Borrell
Associates, was forecast at $390 billion last year.
Doesn’t a spending category that large command some respect?
In order to do it right, history has repeatedly taught us that it
probably demands a business model that is divided from the core
business: in this case, free to sell all kinds of digital services and all
types of media unrestricted from the constraints of the newspaper
mothership. Think about how high the bar is.
A few years ago, I came across a report from Accenture, “Jumping
the S-Curve,” that explains—that in order to survive—your business
has to keep jumping the S-Curve. An S-Curve is a new business or
product’s trajectory lifespan. The S-Curve is like salmon leaping
upstream. It’s a simple, but tested theory that holds up. Companies
that execute repeated climbs and jumps of the S-Curve define high
performance. The companies that achieve high performance develop
a new product or business to out pace a dying product or business
well before the previous ones’ collapse. The theory being that most
companies falter and collapse because they have not ramped up a new
(or replacement) business early enough. They dismiss the threat of
failure because current business is so good (and usually still growing).
Apple is a textbook example of a company that has continuously
jumped the S-curve. Originally known for computers, Apple released
the iPod (a new business), and as the iPod reached maturity in market
penetration, the iPhone was released (another new business), and
then as the iPhone reached its zenith, the iPad (another new business)
debuted. All industry-leading businesses from one high-performing
“Jumping the S-Curve” reveals what these high performance
companies do to successfully climb a business S-curve:
• They see and pursue the “big enough” market insights that can
take a company to the top of an industry.
• They reach “threshold” competence before deciding to scale
• They become worthy of the efforts and commitment of
Jumping the S-curve is an interesting look at how companies can
thrive in a fast environment that requires you always be leaping your
successful business lines. As you pursue new business lines, such as
a digital agency, it may be worth a pause to examine the secrets of
lasting high performance companies.
For more on “Jumping the S-Curve” you can reference the e-edition
of Local Media Today for direct links to --
The newspaper archive scanning service from SmallTownPapersTM
and bound volumes
Protect and Share
Sales & Marketing Director • LMA
Digital Agencies: Swimming Upstream?
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