Do you believe in data?

Last week the iPublish Media team joined media and advertising leaders at the Local Media Association Digital Revenue Summit to discuss practical strategies to grow local digital advertising revenue and reduce operating costs for traditional newspaper and broadcast companies. “The market leaders from our benchmarking data look more like ad agencies than media companies,” said Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell and Associates, quoting data from their SMB Survey 2018. Edwin Ruis, Integrated Revenue Director from Swift, said (about growing audience and revenue) “It’s not magic – we have a disciplined approach to following the data.” I whole-heartedly concur.

I’ve been in your shoes. Before joining iPublish Media Solutions, I was the corporate SVP Digital Revenue for tronc newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting, and corporate VP of Digital Revenue for iHeart Media radio. One of my responsibilities was ensuring our sales force used their time wisely, and that our companies maximized the opportunities and efficiencies advertising technology created.

What does the data tell us?

How does our industry re-invent itself – transforming legacy brands into local ad agencies and still maintain the margins and cost-of-sale we desire?

First, we need to prioritize which local clients are worth calling on in person. In person sales teams need to focus on the local & regional “middle-to-larger” target accounts – companies who can afford a larger ad spend, and make the in-person sales call worthwhile. A disciplined approach to cost of sale tracking and action for outside sales.

But what about the rest of the market? Could your company be leaving dollars on the table? Look at the additional data Gordon and the Borrell team shared at the Borrell 2018 Local Online Advertising Conference in March.

  1. 64% of SMBs execute all marketing efforts themselves up from 51% in 2017; 97% of SMBs execute some form of DIY marketing up from 71% in 2016

  2. 74% of SMBs used traditional and digital media together; 22% of SMBs use only traditional media and 3% use only digital alone

BIA Advisory Services reported recently that local ad spending in the US will continue to grow in 2018. The firm expects US local ad spending to hit $151.2 billion in 2018, a 5.2% increase over $140.9 billion this year. “Local advertising is experiencing the largest annual increase in five years – 5.2% in 2018,” according to BIA Advisory Services. The bulk of those funds will be earmarked for traditional media. 64.7% of expenditures will be dedicated to legacy media channels like TV and newspapers, with the rest going toward digital channels.

Local Advertising Revenue

Why Self-Service?

Because cost of sale prohibits in-person sales teams to pursue every potential local ad and marketing dollar, and because the clear majority of SMB owners tell us they are DIY marketers, you need a well-thought-out self-service strategy. Not as an afterthought, but with a long-term commitment to be the authority on local marketing for your local market. You need to cast a wide net, and offer all the services SMBs tell Borrell and BIA Advisory Services that they want: email, social media, inexpensive video, anchored by traditional media in bundles designed and recommended by you, the trusted local source. You need an aggressive marketing plan that leverages the halo effect of your established local brand. You need an SEO strategy to attract your local businesses to learn about how to market themselves (inexpensively) through you. It is a volume play under your brand. Do you currently offer everything an SMB wants? Can they buy it from you (or think about buying from you) at their own pace, at 10PM or 2AM – whenever it suites them?

What is your current strategy to pursue the budgets that used to belong to Yellow Pages business that is now going to companies like GoDaddy and Constant Contact? Low dollar, low touch, high volume business. You are the local trusted source. You are the ad agency of the future. You need to start telling local businesses that story, and back up what you say with the very best self-service locally targeted ad platform. With the right self-service you can compete for SMB dollars effectively with solid margins and low cost of sale.

An additional benefit of adding a strong self-service strategy to your 2019 roadmap gives your newspaper, TV or radio station a BONUS: you get a lead list for potential inside and/or outside sales to pursue as the self-service clients register and get results from their bundles. Our clients at iPublish report a 4x upsell of add-on services when the small business who purchased via self-service are later visited by a sales representative.

iPublish Media AdPortal advertising self-service/call center platforms bundle the choices SMBs wants from local media companies. Your brand. Your business rules. SMBs purchase marketing combinations they want – the traditional media (including PRINT!) mixed with digital, social, video and map apps in a few clicks from a trusted local source (YOU!)

Sources: BIA Advisory Services Forecast; AdAge, Borrell & Associates LOAC 2018