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Hordes of vertical sites have been popping up and grabbing the geotargeted ads that could theoretically go to newspapers. In response, design and business consultant Alan Jacobsen — who last year developed RealPeopleRealStuff, an online video classified site — is reworking newspapers so they can build their own vertical sites on the go.

The idea is to develop demographically targeted niche sites that serve up local ads on every page adjacent to compelling and relevant content — especially user-generated content. Ad clutter is eliminated by a sponsorship model that provides advertisers with exclusive deals. “CPM is DOA,” says Jacobsen.

Jacobsen’s first vertical product, TweenTribune, targets tween audiences between the ages of 8 and 14. Jacobsen reports that TweenTribune is being used as a Web-based learning platform by teachers, and is being used by newspapers such as The Valdosta Daily Times to drive kids to the main site.

Meanwhile, along the same theme, newspaper consultant (and longtime Hearst exec) Henry “Buzz” Wurzer has compiled a newspaper publisher “checklist.” Wurzer says he would:

1.   Fire myself as Publisher and rehire myself as CEO, Local (Your Market) Information Utility
2.   Reinforce my leading and trustworthy local brand identity by unifying all my existing and future channels of news, information and advertising in both digital and print formats
3.   Aggressively and continuously promote my brand and various information channels locally, especially to young consumers
4.   Lead a culture change throughout my organization that all future strategic plans would be initiated digitally and then employ traditional formats such as print in a supportive role
5.   Retrain as well as hire staff to retool existing products as well as to create new products to fulfill our company mission as our local markets leading information utility
6.   Insist that what makes any and all content we produce compelling and necessary is that it provides local context to help consumers better understand how news affects them and have advertising content available to make the goods and services they buy of greater value
7.   Embrace outside vendors to initiate search and behavioral target marketing efforts
8.   Embrace any and all rich media embellishments to maximize time spent on my sites
9.   Make available multiple links to other information channels to enhance the content I provide
10. Retrain my sales force to provide consultative advertising advice as well as the ability to place additional advertising in other pertinent advertising mediums
11. Join any and all advertising networks to add traffic to my sites, to use their ad serving technology and to allow placement of their advertising via behavioral targeting techniques at increased CPMs
12.  Invest in as well as join any source that can best measure the effectiveness of all the content I provide
13.  Require that any and all content I produce starts digitally and thus can be redistributed to my entire market in a platform neutral manner
14.  Continuously rework financial modeling efforts to best understand the changing margins on ongoing print and Web revenues and expenses in order to radically change the current broken business model we are operating under
15.   Be vigilant on a daily basis internally to staff and externally to consumers and competitors to promote the ever increasing share of the audience in our market we enjoy given the multiple channels of information we provide
16.   Tell my story and successes to my industry peers and encourage all of us to direct our trade association to tell our collective story, which is that the information industry is alive and well and your local information utilities (formerly newspapers) are leading the charge

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