We all agreed that the Key Executive Mega-Conference this year was the best one to which we’ve ever been. A few reasons:

  1. It seems that the waters have settled for many publishers; now the teams at the helm appear ready to make moves.
  2. The location/venue was smaller and tighter, and frankly there were fewer distractions with less long walks between presentations and break-out groups. We got to see almost everybody we had hoped to see.
  3. Everyone is working together to share best practices. There was a real sense of community this year.

These are our top business take-aways from the Mega Conference:

Newspapers are doubling down on news.

Initiatives ranged from non-profit funding of journalistic beats to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publisher who famously handed out 28,000 iPads to digital subscribers in lieu of cutting his 106-person newsroom. Publishers at the conference were looking for smart technology to empower their efforts. Efforts to attract and keep digital and print subscribers is on everybody’s minds. This won the innovation award, and deservedly so.

DIY/BIY technology is producing real revenues – do it yourself, buy it yourself

Just in the nick of time, many new revenue initiatives are DIY or significantly more automated, which means newspapers don’t have to hire and train more sales staff or add personnel to fulfillment processes. They can even empower the next generation of sales professionals with tools they can use on the go, reducing paperwork and cost of sale. When ROI is calculated, these initiatives look great.

On the solutions stage Bay Area News Group (which includes San Jose Mercury News) Director of Real Estate, Eric Bloom, demonstrated how their digital-first approach to real estate has led to growth three years in a row – for both print and digital. Eric pointed out that the automation of everything has been the key to their success – from bringing the MLS and brokers feeds directly into ads, designs automatically generated and then scheduled, to automatic reporting. He also sited intense focus on audience targeting with programmatic. Who knows the community better than the newspaper? No one, and the best targeting equals the best results. Check out a video from the presentation here.

Agents paying $179 for an BIY online marketing package receive a minimum of 40 clicks from programmatic and 100 from Facebook, Bloom told the crowd. 1000 agents have signed up and placed 8000 orders. Bloom estimates that every automated digital package purchased through his LeadHax.com program results in the sale of 3 additional products such as open house ads, etc for every order.

LeadHax‘s new enterprise version is even more exciting. “A 100-listing real estate brokerage can expect 1000 clicks for less than $5000,” Bloom said. LeadHax and the print solution used by Bay Area News Group was created in partnership with iPublish Media Solutions and is available to other newspapers.

Video is on the rise

Everyone sees it coming. After Google AdWords and Facebook swallowed 70% of the local advertising market, YouTube took an additional $8 billion and is still experiencing hockey stick growth. Video will continue to dominate the digital advertising market in 2020, speakers said. Currently, 74% of American consumers above age 13 watch streaming or online video at least weekly. Newspapers are late to this party but have an increasing number of ways to catch up, including the ability to shoot and edit news inexpensively on a smart phones, access to automated content and ad networks, and more. There is an opportunity to include video as part of self-serve offerings that SMB’s want and need. Multiple vendors in the video space presented both video advertising and content solutions designed for newspapers.

There was much more learning and fun, but overall, an A+ show.  If you missed iPublish Media Solutions at Mega and would like to learn more, we are always happy to setup a call or demo to find out how we can help you reach your 2020 goals.