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To close out BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local Conference, Hearst Executive Vice President and BIA/Kelsey conference regular Lincoln Millstein gave a cautiously optimistic view of print media’s future in a brave new mobile and social world.

Brand equity and direct local sales force can’t be ignored, though there’s an admission of complacency in the face of media and cultural transformation. Hearst has done a good job adapting though, as shown by its Local Edge digital suite of local ad products.

“We got fat and lazy throughout the 80s and 90s,” he said. “But in the last few years managing Local Edge, we’ve learned some good lessons and have been able to cherry pick different products.”

This traditional media outlook wasn’t newspaper-heavy though. Millstein gave a shout out to his local print cousins in the Yellow Pages. He called out DexOne specifically for its  ability to execute a simple yet adaptable local ad product bundle.

” Dex has just a few products; it’s a simple product sale,” he said. “We want to do that. I’m not necessarily going to put Facebook in front of [an advertiser] for whom it won’t work.”

Other lessons Millstein has picked up in the last few years include creating content that is “snackable”. This is aligned with an increasingly mobile culture whose attention span is shrinks while emphasis on brevity grows (i.e. Twitter).

He also believes that programmatic display advertising will move beyond its current rut of  remnant inventory. In this evolution, it will also move down market to SMBs. Important lessons have been learned from reselling search as well.

“Google is our killer app, and they appreciate that we are the Russian army,” he said “We pulled back on paid search, which was a mistake, and focused on SEO which is a can of worms and complicated. We’ve gone back on that and righted that ship.”

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