Community, Mobile Drive Digital Cincinnati
It’s no big surprise that Gannett Co.’s Cincinnati Enquirer is the big dog in town in Cincinnati’s online media marketplace, dwarfing the competition from the tri-state’s major TV stations and other media outlets.
Operating as Cincinnati.com on the Web, the 170-year-old Enquirer has successfully captured consumers’ attention online by creating a one-stop-shop for local news, information, calendar postings, local blogs and more. It marries the paper’s print content with other Gannett-owned media products such as NKY.com, 27 free community newspapers, Metromix, and Momslikeme.
But the competition is heating up as Cincinnati.com and the four major TV stations look for new avenues to capitalize on the exploding mobile marketplace. The leading media outlets are looking to tap a new advertising stream through mobile apps that give customers on-the-go news, weather, traffic, and customized coupons using location-tracking technology.
Traditional media companies are flocking to the Internet and mobile technologies because they “are more dynamic, social, and formulate a connective tissue between members of the public other mediums don't,” said Jason Falls, a social media consultant and industry analyst with Social Media Explorer. In addition, “the digital era has ushered in realistic measurement,” allowing you to track each visit, each click and action of a consumer, he said.
Cincinnati is a unique market, spanning a tri-state area incorporating counties in southern Ohio, northern Kentucky and southern Indiana. The DMA, ranked No. 33 by Nielsen, has a population of 2.3 million.
The region is made up of more than 100 neighborhoods, each with a distinct feel and flavor. Its natives are fiercely loyal to the city at large, but also to their own local communities.
Yet, as home to 10 Fortune 500 companies including Procter & Gamble, The Kroger Co. and AK Steel, the metropolitan area regularly attracts young professionals from outside the area. It’s also home to University of Cincinnati and Xavier University in the city, and Miami University of Ohio in the outer Butler County area.
The median income in the market was $52,681 in 2010, according to Borrell Associates. The online advertising market is expected to grow from an estimated $127.4 in 2010 to $219.8 million in 2015, or 72.5%, Borrell said.
The city is also Web savvy. Nearly 83% of all Cincinnati adults had logged in to an online service or the Internet in the previous 30 days, according to The Media Audit’s most recent reporting data.
Cincinnati.com is by far the most frequently visited site in the marketplace, with 34% of adults in the market visiting the site within a 30 day period, according to The Media Audit. (Combined with traffic redirected from users still entering Enquirer.com on their search function, the percentage hits 59.2%.) That’s compared to 28% of adults who said they had visited the sites of their nearest competitors – WCPO-TV and WKRC-TV -- and 23% who had visited sites for WXIX-TV and WLWT-TV.
The Enquirer shifted its Web branding to Cincinnati.com in 2008, dropping Enquirer.com when the only other daily newspaper in the market, The Cincinnati Post, shut its doors. The E.W. Scripps-owned Post and Gannett-owned Enquirer had previously contributed jointly to the Cincinnati.com site as part of a joint operating agreement.
“The Enquirer brand gives us credibility for 170 years of journalism, but Cincinnati.com gives us the flexibility to try new things and bring in other sources,’’ Enquirer director of digital and technology Brian Butts said.
Yet, Enquirer Media (the umbrella organization of the paper and Cincinnati.com) isn’t taking anything for granted when it comes to its market leadership in the new digital world. It’s making a big splash in the market with its Porkappolis location-based mobile application, which officially launched on opening day of the town’s beloved Cincinnati Reds Major League Baseball team. In the past week alone, its added 100 new customers, said Butts.
Porkappolis -- a reference to the city’s “Porkopolis” nickname stemming from its days as a hog-packing center in the 1800’s -- uses GPS technology embedded in mobile devices to provide customized coupons and other offerings based on the location of a user. Users can post and read restaurant reviews, and get news and calendar information from Cincinnati.com. The service puts Porkappolis head-to-head with national companies such as Foursquare, Yelp and Gowalla.
“What I think Porkappolis and programs like it are doing is they are making traditional media outlets more fresh and relevant to their current audiences,” Falls said. At the same time, they’re creating new revenue streams and revenue models through new advertising opportunities, he explained.
The Enquirer is banking on its knowledge of the local marketplace and feet on the ground to give it an edge in the competition. It incorporates the city’s local flavor by giving users special badges of honor for visiting special events and venues, like a “Chili King” badge for visiting 10 local chili restaurants. It currently has a promotion with eight downtown bars, featuring Porkappolis promotional coasters and drink specials for customers checking in with the app.