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This is the first post in our new series, Vantage Points. On a semi-weekly basis, it will tap the perspectives of various lookout points from around the local media and tech sectors. Though the format, frequency and distribution will develop, please contact mbolandATbiakelsey if you have insights to share. The views expressed within do not necessarily reflect those of BIA/Kelsey.

In Broadcast Media, Legacy Doesn’t Have to Carry a Curse

By Maribeth Papuga


“We didn’t reinvent the circus: we packaged it in a much more modern way, but basically we took an art form which is known,with a lot of dust on it, where people had basically forgot that it could be something else than what they knew about, and we basically organized for ourselves a creative platform.” — Cirque de Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, 2011

Challenged by an industry that is rewriting the rules while the ecosystem expands, local legacy media must repackage itself in a more modern way. Like other industries, traditional processes and procedures prevail for lack of any viable and collective alternative. Local market broadcast stations have the further burden of regulatory and content restrictions that create complacency and aversion to alter predictable models.

These stations have faced fiscal and competitive entertainment challenges for decades with focused response on improving structural attractiveness through mergers and acquisitions; but long term growth models are dependent on a structure and culture of vertical integrations, hierarchical decision making and risk aversion. Real and substantial opportunities will not prevail unless broader entrepreneurial thought leadership, an open and inclusive business environment and a willingness to shift direction is adopted by all.

Rather than react to headlines or seek answers in a homogenized national marketplace, local broadcasters should concentrate on disrupters in their own markets and their impact on local consumers. These startups create new products and services by thinking unconventionally and expanding their ability to solve problems. With better access to locally sourced data, economic development and demographic shifts taking place in local markets it is unfathomable that the solutions would not come from these centers versus a national aggregator. And yet, this is precisely a direction that many leaders are headed by following nationally driven initiatives.

Its time legacy media concentrate on challenging traditional models, expanding collaborative partnerships and using academia as a key lever for innovation and talent.

Take the Lead

Today’s media environment is flush with new products that elicit both consumer and marketing adoption in lieu of legacy options. This reality has forced traditional owners to find ways to mimic these new offerings with incomparable options by adopting tactics related to impressions and programmatic selling; without fully understanding that the underlying framework will not only make this a difficult comparison but take them further away from the core value they offer their audiences, advertisers and investors.

Think Horizontally

The economics of managing change in today’s divergent marketplace will not enable any one company or channel to create an all-inclusive model. By adopting the practices set forth by local mayors and business development teams through collective problem solving among civic, private, academic and philanthropic resources; broadcasters can build bridges to connect multiple parties to identify shared resources that collectively address their unique market circumstances and promote broader solutions. Underlying these new initiatives is a framework for prosperity that is collaborative, entrepreneurial and network based to drive future focused initiatives Through a more collaborative market structure, legacy media owners can better avail themselves to both nurture and develop a stronger playbook for the future.

Back to School

The role of universities has been significant in feeding broadcast owners talent needs for decades. As technology evolves, the journalism and engineering students are migrating toward new options that appeal to their future forward goals. Much of this interest is born through on campus experience as universities promote inclusive entrepreneurial thought leadership across departments and majors. Legacy vendors should look to universities as the resource lever to help develop and launch innovative solutions against market objectives for more future forward growth targets. Tapping universities in a more disciplined way can foster faster development of new models and solutions to audience measurement, content relevance, device affinity and the interactive value in the local market.

Redefine the Market

A new media ecosystem fueled by entrepreneurial values, new tactics and rules has forced legacy media to become more defensive by following incomparable trends. While entrepreneurial ecosystems take time to develop, that is no reason to retain vertical industry decision making weighted toward an aggregated solution. People live in local markets and legacy media leaders still service these individuals in their own backyard. By following a simple truth that enables the market and its audiences to be the leading source for innovative solutions, the sum of these individual efforts will open up far more possibilities for future growth. If not, legacy leaders could risk further redundancy among consumers, advertisers and investors.

PapugaMaribeth Papuga is a 25+ year advertising veteran with specialization in local market media planning and buying. The majority was spent leading the local practice at MediaVest and predecessor DMB&B.

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