The local publishing business is rapidly changing as the digital age erodes traditional relationships between publisher, reader, and advertiser. Publishers need more than just a robust user base to sustain their businesses, and must work harder than ever to strike a balance between two very different sets of customers: readers and advertisers.
Local publishers really need to begin focusing more time and energy on courting the local advertisers who had long relied on print ads in papers for marketing but have since moved on to spend a greater percentage of their advertising dollars online. Until recently, advertisers were often taken for granted as newspaper revenue, since they really needed local publishers to spread the word about their businesses.
In the past, the rationale for local publications was that quality content was the lynchpin — great editorial ensured the larger volume of readers that advertisers wanted to reach: better coverage of local news led to more subscribers, which led to more advertisers. It was a cyclical process, and the ads virtually sold themselves. Unfortunately this thought process has left many publications in the ice age of advertising, and they need to begin offering more.
Fortunately, however, a robust subscriber base is still worth something when it comes to ad sales for publishers — the sales pitch has merely evolved. It’s no longer just about how many eyes are on the page, it’s about the total value that publishers can offer. So publishers should all be looking for new, innovative ways to enhance the advertising experience and ultimately bring in more advertising revenue.
That’s not to say that publishers should solely focus on their advertisers. They should also continue to provide value and quality content for the reader, because at the end of the day more readers will still mean more advertisers.
An aggressive approach to this economic model could mean the difference between life and death for some media companies, and provide others with enough capital to no longer worry about distribution woes and whether or not to add paywalls onto their websites.
When it comes to striking a balance and providing value to both the advertiser and reader there are plenty of opportunities for publishers. Adding supplementary advertising options to websites, such as coupon exchanges or merchant directories, can actively drive more customers through the doors of businesses providing a greater ROI for advertisers.
These kinds of resources can also help readers save money at local businesses, thereby increasing the value of the publication for the average reader. Ultimately, providing this type of resource can begin to drive new readers to the publication, which can jumpstart that advertiser/subscriber cycle once again.
It’s time to put campaigns into hyper-drive and find new, innovative ways to increase advertising revenue by building better relationships with advertisers and providing more value for both the advertiser and reader.