helping media companies maximize revenue through effective sales of their multimedia assets

What's Happening

No free lunch - except when competing for local digital ad revenue

How many of your clients have a LinkedIn page for their business?

That's how many of your clients just received a compelling email from LinkedIn, offering $50 free strings attached.

Quick test, are you reacting with any of the following thoughts(?):

- newspaper owns the local market.

- We've seen competitors come and go, clients always come back to us.

- This market is not Internet savvy, that offer won't work here.

- We don't give away anything, never have, never will.

- Free offers never work.  Clients will take the freebie, then run.

If your brain tempted you to go down any of those roads of thought, your brain is living in 1995!

The good old days came and went.  Newspaper publishers historically have not acted like marketers when competing for local advertising.  They didn't have to.  

Now we are flat out under attack by smart national marketers who lead with a free lunch as a path to eating ours.

LinkedIn is only the latest.  Facebook made headlines with a similar offer a few years ago, and they seem to have done pretty well, siphoning big ad bucks from every local market in the country.

Google led with free advertising offers almost from the start of the Google Adwords programs, with free offers of up to $150 for a local business.  Google has diverted even more local digital dollars than Facebook.  

Admit that these guys are smarter than you (digitally speaking), and they have more clout.  If that weren't true, they would not have stolen a big share of "your" local digital ad spending.  And they have.  If you have been living in denial on that one, just stop.  If you can't stop, call Gordon Borrell, who will ruin your day by telling you to the penny how much has been lost in your market to Facebook and Google.  

You have two choices:

1.  Fight fire with fire.  Start aggressively competing for digital ad dollars with a marketing discipline.  

2.  Take solace in the fact that you own your local market, and clients don't understand or care about Google, Facebook, and now LinkedIn.  And plan what you will do in your early retirement, because it you will be here before you know it.

If you are going to fight, understand that the approach of the national competitors is not just about giving stuff away.  As we gained experience with placing ad campaigns on Google and later Facebook, we were struck by these common elements:

- They use both traditional channels and Web/email marketing to systematically attack ALL the businesses in your local market.  

- Their offers are simple, and come with no strings or commitments.

- The whole process is simple.  You can typically launch a campaign in minutes, with no technical knowledge.  No credit app or similar hurdles.  Your ads are live in minutes.

- You get great analytics from day one.  No pestering or waiting.  In fact, in case you don't log into your reports, they send them to you periodically.  They are easy to read, and provide meaningful data to help you make decisions - such as increasing your spending!

- The expectation is that you only pay for the service if you are satisfied with results.  No minimums.  No annual contracts.  No short rates.

Is this overwhelming to you?  Then go schedule a tee time, and send for information about that Clean Rite Laundromat franchise in your town.  You'll need something else to do soon.  

Or you can schedule a meeting of your key managers for first thing tomorrow morning.  Start that meeting by talking about digital market share, active clients, and new revenue...where you are today, and where you want to be in one, two and three years.  Then work backward to do what it takes to make it happen.  Startle the market along the way with offers and strategies that will make Google, Facebook and LinkedIn look like beginners.  

You are at war, and you can win.

If you want extra fire power, schedule a second meeting, and conference us in.  We are experts at The Art of War.




Twitter @Bobkellagher








Is Facebook Instant Articles the devil in disguise for publishers?

In just the past few days we've seen four articles about Facebook's initiative that lets newspaper and magazine publishers post their stories directly to Facebook's mobile platform.

If you are a key executive at a publishing company, it's likely that your boss has forwarded one or more of these articles to you, along with an insightful comment such as "Interesting..." or "We should be looking at this."  That's why he's the boss.

A Digiday article seems to have it figured out with the headline "Publishers Shrug Off Concerns, Eager to Publish on Facebook."  

Well, maybe some publishers.  At least the ones they quote in their article.  Execs from Hearst Magazines and Conde Nast say it's just a matter of time...but of course those are not newspaper company execs talking.  

So far, the only newspaper company committed to the new project is The New York Times, and we should never forget that the NYT has little in common with the rest of the newspapers in the U.S.  

The Digiday article ticks off "key concessions" that Facebook has made to make the picture rosy for publishers.  The clicks on Instant Articles counts toward the publisher's site traffic.  When readers share Instant Articles with friends, the link goes to the publisher's website.  Facebook is allowing the publishers to keep 100% of the revenue from ads sold on Instant Articles (though as we learn in another article, that's only if and when the publisher sells and serves the ad).

But as the article goes on to point out "...some warn that publishers are making an error in turning their content over to Facebook."  

Historically, that perceived loss of control has always been the nebulous negative factor when publishers have looked at new partnership opportunities and aggregation plays.  It doomed early newspaper efforts to dominate online classifed ads, and later it limited the impact of the Yahoo! Newspaper Consortium.  

An Ad Age article provides a different spin, with the headline "Publishers Willing to Give Facebook Their Articles, but Not Their Ad Sales."

The article explains that while Facebook is willing to sell and serve ad space on Instant Articles for a 30% commission, several of the nine pioneer partners vehemently state that they will not turn their ad sales over to a third party.

There may be some sense in that if you are NBC News, National Geographic, or even The New York Times...but if you publish a 15,000 circulation daily paper in the midwest, can you possibly gear up to manage a whole new ad sales platform, and keep your cost of sales under 30%?  Good luck with that.

Indeed, a Wall Street Journal Article suggests "With Facebook's Instant Articles, Publishers May Find That 70 Cents is Better Than a Dollar."  

The article goes on to nail it - "For years publishers have struggled to successfully generate revenues from mobile ads, and there's no reason to believe they'll be any better at it if they sell their own ads for Instant Articles.  It's possible Facebook could generate a whole lot more revenue by selling the ads - and 70% of that larger number may wind up the better outcome for publishers."

Is this making sense if you are the publisher of that 15,000 circulation daily?

A New York Times article sets out to determine "Why Facebook's News Experiment Matters to Readers" but in the first paragraph says the experiment is really all about "who owns the relationship with readers."

(The experiment) "signals a major shift in the relationship between publications and their readers"  according to The Times.  The article suggest that Facebook is actively trying to get readers to come to Facebook for news, instead of visiting the sites of the publishers.

Well, no kidding!  Facebook has been doing that for years, and they have absolutely succeeded.  A Google search reveals that 71% of online adults use Facebook.  What's your percentage, Mr. Publisher of that 15,000 daily?  For that matter, what is your percentage, New York Times?

Facebook has the technology, the audience, and the analytics to deliver profits from mobile.  An old adage says if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  

If you are getting ready to respond to your boss about the wisdom of linking with Facebook, remember that a "wait and see" attitude does not always prove prudent in today's fast moving world.  




Twitter @Bobkellagher





Publishers, don't give up on attracting Millenials to print

A recent article on the medialife website claims it is possible to target Millenials in print!

The example cited is Time Out New York magazine...not exactly a community newspaper, but still it is hard to argue with the four "lessons" the article distills from the case history:

1. Be prepared to spend money.

2. Make your website up to date.

3. Offer freebies.

4. Go well beyond print and online.

But is that enough?

What about getting close enough to the target audience to understand what would drive them to pick up a printed newspaper?

We meet too many publishers who are quietly bought into the notion that print is dead, at least for people under 30.  They seem to lack the time, money, and maybe the energy to get closer to young consumers in their markets who are growing up to be adults with discretionary income.

Recently we had the chance to visit Wilkes-Barre PA, where an amazing weekly publication (published by the daily newspaper company) is going strong in its 20th year of operation.  

Check out the Weekender's website to see how it's done.  This is clearly not your father's newspaper...but in fact it is!  One advertiser told us that the strength of the product comes in part because "people grew up reading this paper for news and entertainment, and they keep reading it into their 40's and beyond." 

Many publishers would cringe at the idea of content such as Model of the Week, Stoner Confessions, or prostitutes releasing, um, revealing photos of local cops (that last one is found under the heading "Fake News").  

Edgy content has been a staple of The Weekender from day one.  Twenty years ago the inaugural issue featured a cover story about women at a local Catholic college who worked in strip clubs to pay tuition.  

Edgy content creates a constant "what will they do next" buzz around town, but look deeper and you see that the real meat of the Weekender is that it's a one stop shop for those interested in nightlife in Northeast PA.  That has created a perfect environment for bar, club, and restaurant advertisers looking for adults who go out and spend money...and that ad content has helped make the Weekender an even stronger marketplace for both readers and advertisers.

The Weekender makes money, and it boasts 80,000 loyal readers in a modest sized community that tends to be socially conservative...not unlike many towns across America where publishers are wondering if it is time to give up on print.




Twitter @Bobkellagher






Extended audience drives new revenue in Civitas markets

The Blinder Group just completed three hugely successful sales campaigns in three Civitas Media markets.  Congratulations to the amazing ad teams at The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre PA), Lima News (Lima OH) and The Telegraph (Alton IL).

Local businesses were offered a mix of print and digital ad products for one attractive monthly fee in exchange for a year long commitment, allowing the local newspaper companies to lock up hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue (and local market share!).

Though offering a comprehensive local ad program was a driver, the red hot button in these markets was the extended audience buys that were included to supplement ad banners on the newspaper websites.

Using premium banner ad placements on a network of major national websites, the program allows clients to target specific zip codes in or out of the newspaper market.  Once geography is specified, the network uses a combination of contextual, search and site retargeting to zero in on the best local prospects for the client's business.  The goal of the network buy is "zero waste."

The precise targeting appealed to even the smallest of local businesses, but was a major hook for regional businesses with locations outside the newspaper footprint.  

By the end of each campaign, the local newspaper sales teams were basking in the empowerment that comes with being able to precisely target customers in any zip code in the country for their clients!  This is a big competitive differentiator for a local media company.  

There are other programs out there, and about half the clients we met with had some prior exposure to the concept of behavioral targeting.  We made education about such programs a part of the basic presentations, so that clients came away with the understanding that this network involves premium ad inventory and superior methodolgy.  

We wanted to prepare clients for the inevitable pitches from other local competitors, and to be prepared with the right questions to avoid wasting money.  We started by explaining that similar ad programs go by different names - behavioral targeting, extended audience, reach extension, and sometimes simply "national network."

We explained the significant differences between premium networks and remnant buys, since they often sound similar, but offer very different value propositions.

Auto dealers were our toughest targets in terms of "been there done that" but several dealers bought the program after listening to the details.  One dealer added the package to an existing targeted buy from another source, because he was impressed with the details and the superior reporting of the Civitas Media offering.

If you can deliver a great targeted network buy to businesses in your local market, you are positioned to lock up huge market share in 2015.  Give us a shout today and let's talk strategy for your market.




Twitter @Bobkellagher










Facebook: "Let us be your online publishing platform."

A New York Times article provides some detail about Facebook's offer to host publisher content, and reveals that the Times could be the first major affiliate to come on board. 

We love the first paragraph: "Nothing attracts news organizations like Facebook.  And nothing makes them more nervous."

Indeed.  Remember the Yahoo! Newspaper Consortium?  

Despite what appeared to be a golden opportunity to partner with what was then the largest group of websites on the Internet, many newspaper groups, including Gannett and The Tribune Company, sat on the sidelines.  The Consortium brought millions of dollars of new revenue to participating newspapers, and helped train thousands of newspaper sales reps to sell audience and behavioral targeting.  Yet even today, many of our publisher friends in the industry brag about their decision NOT to participate.

To be fair, the Yahoo! deal was far from perfect.  Participating newspapers wound up with an ad serving system that caused operational problems, and changing management at Yahoo! resulted in less than desired attention to the Consortium efforts over time.

Just like with Yahoo!, much of the discussion will focus on control.  That's a valid concern, and publishers should ask all the right questions.  We just want to exhort our publisher friends to take a close look.  Don't miss out on a golden opportunity because of a perceived threat.  Whatever might be said about the Yahoo! experience, Yahoo! did not "take control" of member newspapers, and it was clearly not their aim to do so.

As the article states, Facebook has much to gain from bringing news publishers on board.  No kidding.  That's why they are focused on this strategy.  

The article also makes it clear that Facebook is looking to structure the relationship in a way that will bring ad revenue to its partners.  

Publishers, run your numbers and do your due diligence rapidly.  Remember that with the Yahoo! deal, those that were first in the door got the best financial terms.  Sometimes, you have to take high risks to gain high rewards.




Twitter @Bobkellagher








The New York Times is readying for a mobile-only world

According to a story in Advertising Age, The New York Times is shifting resources from every part of its operation to expand its efforts on mobile platforms.  

The story also implies that the NYT Now app may soon be offered free.  After a few years of experimentation with paywalls, even the nation's most powerful newspaper publishers seem to be getting the message from consumers and advertisers: erecting paywalls is not a growth strategy in the digital arena.

As we work with local media clients across North America, we at The Blinder Group have noted that local businesses are completely aware that mobile is the future of media and advertising.  Despite that awareness, most have no idea how to adapt their marketing to the mobile explosion.  That creates a huge opportunity in terms of poviding mobile solutions at the local level.  

Whether it is simply defining mobile ad stragegies that will give your clients the most impact from appearing on your mobile site, or adopting sophisticated location based targeting products like those offered by Adstrix, the time to take action is NOW.  

Businesses in your local market are seeking solutions, and your media company is already their trusted source.  Call today if you would like help taking a powerful mobile strategy to market as part of a high impact multimedia program for your clients.  We can help you do it quickly.




Twitter @Bobkellagher









Borrell reports local digital ad spending growth is accelerating in 2015

The latest report from Borrell Associates is a wakeup call for local media companies that are not already positioned as the premiere full service digital marketing provider in their local markets:

- Local digital advertising will grow 42% in 2015, on top of the 40% growth in 2014.  (These numbers are NOT typos!).

- Digital advertising has displaced print as the number one local ad medium.  Since 2008, digital has grown from 12% of local advertising to 41%.  Newspaper advertising has dropped from 25% to just 12%.

- Pureplays are getting 75% of local digital ad spending.  That means almost all of that money is going out of town.  Borrell mentions "Google, Facebook,, YouTube, Monster, LinkedIn, Twitter, Zillow,, and thousands of others."

- Borrell implies that you must become a digital media company to win.

- Traditional local media companies are falling into 3 categories.  "Digital Investors" are buying agencies and other companies, and investing in hiring specialists.  "Digital Hedge-betters" are investing but not as aggressively.  "Digital nesters" are selling digital only if it helps sell traditional advertising.

- Mobile is the future.  In 2014 38% of all online advertising was delivered on a mobile device.  By 2019 that will grow to 70%.

- Newspapers must grow digital at least 15 - 20% annually in the coming years to overcome expected 6 - 8% annual declinces in print revenue.

If you want to re-position your company to take advantage of the exploding digital opportunity and minimize competitive threats, give us a call today.  It's what we do!




Twitter @Bobkellagher







Working With the Right Data Maximizes Street Sales Success

Here at the Newspaper Mega-Conference in Atlanta, much of the informal talk centers around publishers looking for solutions to improve their local market share of digital revenue.

We just completed a one week sales campaign that generated $165,000 in new business in Schenectady NY.  

Our consultants made sales calls on the street with the Daily Gazette sales team.  That's our usual approach, but in , this case we used Adseller reports from Pulse Research.  With deep rich data in hand, we were able to land more appointments and close more sales.

76% closing ratio in front of qualified decision makers! Ad Seller data helped the local sales team entice decision makers to schedule calls and sell the program. The package we took to market leveraged Social Streaming (Friends 2 Follow) and Extended Audience to sell local banner ads and weekly print ads at great rates within full year contracts.

Here's what the client had to say:

"Having the data from Ad Seller really helped us get the decision maker to the table & generate over $150,000 in new digital (AND PRINT) revenue during the Blinder initiative. Working Pulse & Blinder together in-market, was a real good match!”   Jim Murphy VP – Advertising & Market Development Schenectady (NY) The Daily Gazette

Here's the presentation we used to score this big win for our client:

Give us a call to talk about how we can lock up digital share in your market.




Twitter @Bobkellagher









Streaming SMB Social Content Garners New Advertisers for Legacy Media

In 2015 The Blinder Group worked in over 100 markets, producing over $6 million in new revenue for our local media clients.

When we roll into a market, we work with your local sales team to present a custom multimedia bundle to your target clients, who typically sign one year agreements for the offer, which is limited in quantity and time (special pricing while we are in market generates immediate sales).

We are here at the Mega-Conference in Atlanta, talking up the single biggest hot button product that we saw in 2014.  Friends2Follow is the secret ingredient.

When Friends2Follow was included in the bundle offered by our clients, our closing rate jumped by 15 percentage points!

When we first started helping to market Friends2Follow, we had no idea that it would turn out to be the perfect product at just the right time.  The social streaming widget solves the problem created by Facebook recently.  Facebook now filters business page post, so the typical post is only seen by 5 - 10% of the clients' Facebook "likes."  We are told that will go to 0% in the near future - all business posts will be blocked!

Local businesses that have spent years building their audience of likes are dismayed, but in the end, it's Facebook's platform and they can do what they want.

Friends2Follow neatly circumvents Facebook by streaming social posts directly onto the pages of your newspaper's website.  Check out an example by clicking HERE and looking for the Friends2Follow widget in the right rail.  Be sure to click on "View All Updates" at the bottom of the widget to see the cool archive page.  Your clients' posts live forever in the archives, which is a convenience for readers, and a great way to associate the client's content with your newspaper content online.

The stream can handle all your clients' posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even YouTube.  That puts "breaking local business news" in one place for your readers on the pages of your website.  The entire process is automated, so the posts appear automatically with no manual work for you or the client.

Local businesses have a strong and immediate reaction to this product.  In most of the markets we worked, publishers reported that businesses were calling immediately after Friends2Follow launched on their site, wanting to know about a la carte pricing.  

We actually recommend limiting Friends2Follow to clients who buy a multimedia package for a full year. That drives sales of the bigger package, and it ensures greater impact for the premiere clients who support your multimedia efforts in your market.

To check out how we go to market with multimedia programs, click HERE to see the sales deck we used for Sound Publishing.

To learn more about deploying Friends2Follow in your market just shoot us a call, text, or email.




Twitter @Bobkellagher




Are you ready for page one native ads?

One of the hottest topics at next week's Mega-Conference in Atlanta will be native advertising.  

Now a print publication has upped the ante - putting native advertising on its front cover!

Click here for the full story from Ad Age:

At The Blinder Group, we saw the beginnings of the native advertising groundswell last year.  This year we are gearing up to help our local media clients get the edge on the competition in this arena.  Give us a call to learn more.




Twitter @Bobkellagher