Key Executives MegaConference 2013

INMA: Papers' Big Rev Growth In Vid, Mobile

Earl Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of the International News Media Association, speaking at the Key Executives MegaConference in New Orleans on Monday said the trade organization recently concluded that video had the greatest new revenue potential for this year, but newspapers should consider other revenue streams including ad networks, content marketing, sponsored content, subscription bundles and transactional e-content like deals malls.

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Photo: NewOrleansOnline.com
NEW ORLEANS -- Newspapers will need to curb print advertising losses with a range of different revenue sources, and video, mobile and search are the top prospects for 2013, the head of the International News Media Association said on Monday.

"There is a road map to multimedia, but we're probably going to fill that print advertising hole with at least 10 revenue opportunities," said Earl Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of INMA, speaking to publishers at the Key Executives MegaConference, a joint meeting of the Local Media Association, Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and the Inland Press Association.

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INMA's board recently concluded that video had the greatest new revenue potential for this year, Wilkinson said, but many publishers would need to consider syndicated content to buttress their own video production. "The question you have to ask is how much of that scales," he said.

Second-wave mobile, which includes contextual advertising, new and more intrusive ad formats, as well as mobile video and social advertising, was another highly viable stream this year, he said, as was search advertising.

But Wilkinson also exhorted publishers to consider revenue streams such as ad networks, content marketing, sponsored content, subscription bundles and transactional e-content like deals malls.

More broadly, Wilkinson warned newspapers that they're still not keeping pace with the exponential changes happening in information consumption. "We are slowly reordering our industry to these new expectations, but I don't think it's coming fast enough," he said.

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Publishers need to let go of a "print or digital" mentality, he said, and instead concentrate on being more "ambidextrous" companies that focus on their journalism and story production while "de-linking print from words." Companies must focus on their core competencies, he stressed, those likeliest to be in place 10 years from now.

Newspapers also need to shift how they focus their marketing from products to brands, Wilkinson said. Never mind the "spinach marketing" of quality journalism, trust and papers' role in democracy — readers don't get it.

Rather, "it is about the benefits to them," he said. To that end, he pointed to value-added subscriber content as just the sort of thing that readers appreciate.

And don't count print out yet, he added, pointing to a foundational print audience that loves the form and tends to be older, more affluent and deeply brand loyal. "Print is a deep engagement medium," he said. "It's a medium of devotion, loyalty and passion," he said, noting that publishers can look abroad to examples like The Times of India for some fresh thinking in how to reinvigorate that platform.

Print is likely to stay with us for years yet, he said, but publishers need to more closely consider where it fits into their strategy: "Is print the be-all, end-all architectural model? Is it a branding vehicle? A monetization vehicle?"

Whatever the answers, publishers need to find them more quickly, Wilkinson stressed, saying, "I believe we need a new sense of urgency in our business."

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