At BIA/Kelsey NATIONAL: Television and Newspapers Go Rogue

Stacey Sedbrook and Peter Krasilovsky of BIA/Kelsey led a SuperForum to end Day One of BIA/Kelsey NATIONAL. Panelists included:

Steve Lanzano, President & CEO, TVB Local Media Marketing Solutions
Grant Moise, Sr. VP, Business Development, The Dallas Morning News
Ethan Selzer, Vice President, Retail & Regional Advertising, The Washington Post
Pam Taylor, Corporate Director of Digital Sales, Meredith Corp.

All this is paraphrased reportage, except for passages in quotes, which are verbatim.

Peter Krasilovsky: Many people don’t understand the national reach of a newspaper. How do you explain your papers’ national reach?

Grant Moise: The Dallas Morning News benefits from the Dallas Cowboys. Fifty-percent of visitors come from outside the market, and they visit for the Cowboys.

Ethan Selzer: The Washington Post is a national political publication. The company is organizing candidate-based packages to support voter decision-making. It’s a myth that newspaper readers have already decided who they will vote for — they read to learn and decide.

Since Jeff Bezos bought the Post, it has added 10 million regular readers, compared to 38 million before the acquisition 18 months ago. He cares about audience growth.

Native Advertising started as a corporate initiative. It started with a mattress company, Mattress Warehouse, where decisions are high consideration and infrequent. Native campaigns can help people understand complex things the media would not cover. The articles were about the value of sleep and quality of sleep for the individual. It was “shared massively.”

Stacey Sedbrook: How has the SpeakEasy relationship at The Dallas Morning News?

Moise: Print is still declining, down seven percent annually. With SpeakEasy, we are building a business that allows local business to engage with the audience in a social setting. We call it a content marketing agency for national, but it is a social marketing service for our local customers.

Krasilovsky: “National” is often misused, because it often means “regional.” How do your papers engage the region?

Moise: We focus on the local enterprise space and regional marketing for the North Texas region, bringing in advertising from Oklahoma City, New Orleans and elsewhere because they see Dallas as the regional leader.

Selzer: Our newsroom investment drives what advertisers buy. For example, our arts coverage, which is the only such coverage in the region, drives a lot of arts advertising. We also have the resources of a global brand to address the local audience, so we tend to “crack” experiments with customers who are trying something (with The Post) that they are trying for the first time.

Sedbrook: How is your national ad team changing at the The Dallas Morning News?

Moise: We had 10 sales reps serving national advertisers a decade ago. Now we have two. We address five percent of the US population, but in our marketing automation business we have customers across the company. We are not limited to the Dallas region, but we’ve really scaled back.

We partner with companies that represent us to national accounts.

Selzer: The Post is “quite the opposite.” We have a regional team in D.C. and a national sales team in New York to go after advertisers who come to the Post from across the country, because 90 percent of our visitors are outside Washington. When we get referred to an agency, we can go to our national team who already has contact with those agencies every week.

The Dallas Morning News, 80 percent of local advertising is digital. The Post’s national advertising split is 50/50, but at the local level the mix is more like Dallas, at 80-20.

Krasilovsky: How is mobile playing in your businesses? National mobile will be at 60 percent in 2019, versus about 38 percent today.

Moise: We had gone to major retailers in the past [pitching] mobile, but they didn’t want to hear about our own solution. They want a consolidated offering, not many different offers. CashDash is a new investment to address mobile users. It is a geofenced service that uses a photo taken by the user of receipts to generate the incentive pay-out (such as $50 back on $250 in spending), which is in the user’s accounts the next day. It has driven up to $100,000 in sales for some advertisers.

Now, we add the television panelists.

Sedbrook: Broadcast hasn’t seen the “freefall” that print has, so are you behind the newspapers?

Steve Lanzano: Tier One advertisers are “carpet-bombing” and we see most of our digital in local and regional. So, we showed the impact on sales from local advertising is better. We created a virtual car dealership to let shoppers view cars online, which has converted national spending into buyers to local outlets.

Sedbrook: What is the definition of “national?”

Taylor: Meredith defines local as any sale in the geographic region. All business is local to the customer.

Selzer: Businesses that want to reach Washington in addition to every other part of the country are “national” customers. All business and politics is local.

Krasilovsky: How are you working with other media?

Moise: In Dallas, we do some content sharing with television. But from an advertising standpoint we are not actively selling in partnership with the television stations — The Morning News used to own the local ABC affiliate, and it didn’t work to cross-sell then.

Selzer: The Post doesn’t work with television [to sell advertising, the Post does produce video].

Lanzano: TV drives scale. Our digital assets bring targeting and personalization. So, now agencies see the world as a barbell, with TV on one end and digital at the other, with everything else thinly distributed between them. The role of the individual media is what it all comes down to — it’s not an “or” question, but an “and” question.

Sedbrook: How are you dealing with cord-cutters?

Lanzano: The on-demand services don’t address local broadcasters with a viable price for consumers. Consumers want local content, not just national content. Television segments by demographic, e.g. ESPN is watched by men. The bundles don’t work without local [any more than they could do without ESPN).

Taylor: Our local sales reps in Phoenix worked with Volkswagen to reach visitors for the Super Bowl and two other major sporting events that weekend. We used geo-fencing to address attendees to the different events, and it resulted in greater opportunities with Volkswagen. We need to make the process simple, so that rep-side people know how to reach the local station to configure an offer.

Sedbrook: Relationships sell. People will buy from the rep firms they like. How important are good local rep firm relationships?

Lanzano: In programmatic, the salesperson is “liberated” because they don’t need to configure all the preferences for each advertiser, it’s done with automation. But you still need the relationships. Franchises are usually important — for example, when a concept gets to a certain distribution in the U.S., it goes to national — because it works. At that point, the concepts can fail because the local sales touch is lost. In two franchise restaurant scenarios, I showed them that they needed to allocate more to local to get the penetration they want for the budget they have.

Sedbrook: Does “spray and pray” work — going for reach to everybody? Or is targeting more important?

Lanzano: It’s all about targeting. Programmatic is about targeting. Take the data stacks and pick the audience you want to reach. That’s the beauty of programmatic. You need a system for [targeting] and television may have reach to audiences at a key buying decision-point that we don’t currently recognize.

Sedbrook: Do pay walls work?

Moise: The whole idea of pay walls is to subsidize paper with digital. Thirty percent of paper subscribers buy digital, which doesn’t offset our print lost revenue. So, we backed off on the pay wall and are studying it.

Selzer: We are still exploring how to use pay walls. You can get a premium for premium digital content and still keep your regular audience. We are using first- and third-party data to augment traditional media, such as direct-mail, when they are online. If they weren’t a subscriber, we can get the same content as a mailer circular contains to them in different ways with digital.

Now data and analytics have become a big part of how circulars are optimized. We’ve joined a consortium to share first-party data with other papers to learn more about how to target. We can show advertisers a more efficient and effective way to distribute the same number of circulars, which has been welcomed by all. Once we’ve optimized all our circulars, we will have a better view of where the next dollar of ad spend should go.

Lanzano: At the end of the day, it’s all about content. We need to distribute, measure and get paid for content, then it’s all good. If we put good content out we’ll succeed.

Moise: Some advertisers don’t see the newspaper as a content vehicle, it’s just for delivering ads. We’re just a cheaper solution to put something onto a lawn instead of a mailbox. We’ve acquired a number of companies, such as Distribion, to provide centralized marketing control across different channels to advertisers. It’s a very sophisticated digital hub for all your digital advertising needs. Distribion can support permission-based marketing to preserve the nationally advertised terms that the advertiser defined. Software can control how national brands get into local markets.

Krasilovsky: You’re not a well-defined niche business anymore [to the Dallas Morning News].

Moise: We’re a hybrid, we’ve gone rogue.

Taylor: We’re about local, we can help national brands reach local. We have digital solutions that help brands reach local through broadcast and digital. We will explore partnerships with other companies if it makes sense.

Audience: What is the panel’s opinion of Nielsen purchasing Excelate?

Lanzano: I think they are going into programmatic, but I don’t see how they can do that as measurement company, which needs to be third-party [to the ad transaction] so I am as curious as you.

In response to the question of digital opportunities, everyone on the panel believes it is still early, that there are lots of upside.

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