Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Borrell: Local 'Up,' Dedicated Staff Key

Spotted this on Gordon Borrell's blog tonight:

"....earlier this year when we projected that local online advertising would grow 8% in 2009. At the end of the first quarter, the increase looked closer to 11%. When we finish collecting our second-quarter data in the next few weeks, I’m certain the number will be quite a bit higher. "

Gordon says "dedicated" sales staff are driving the successes.

The dedicated vs converged sales force debate still rages on in local media companies. From someone who has seen both strategies on numerous occasions, take it from me, dedicated is necessary, but they may not be mutually exclusive from converged. In other words, you must have a dedicated staff, while converged selling should also be supported to a lesser degree.

Freemium Strategies, The Key is the Mix?

I've been meaning to write a post about the push to save newspapers via paid subscriptions.

In April, Steven Brill announced the creation of Journalism Online and invited (Read: challenged) publishers. Brill said that he had the formula to save their businesses. Generally speaking, the formula is a mixture of free and premium content known as "freemium."

This week, JO announced a partnership with ITZ Publishing. Together they would track usage of small- and medium-sized newspapers and optimize the freemium strategy for each publication based on usage.

I find this strategy interesting for many reasons, including the similarities to research by inStat. inStat recommended a mix of fee, paid subscriptions, and micropayments targeting the core users of a site. An important element of the strategy is targeting the core user with engagement strategies and subscriptions. The idea is that the core user will will pay because they are devoted users, and their engagement will draw in the moderate users, who will be monetized through display ads and occassionl sampling of premium (fee-based) content. The strategy was echoed in what JO has been proposing.

Of note, inStat believes the freefall in newspaper advertising will stabilize in 2010, providign a glimmer of hope for papers that restructure their businesses.