How to make sure the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train

29 Jan How to make sure the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train

TownNews CEO, Marc Wilson, is one of the smartest guys I know in the newspaper business. So when he talks I listen. I don’t always agree with him, but more often than not his observations are spot on.


That’s why I read with interest his post earlier this week; Don’t Let Technology Dismantle Your ‘Gold Mine’ on News & Tech. It’s a lengthy piece with several insights, but ends with three trends Wilson believes we all need to pay attention to:

•We can reduce the commoditization of our advertising by segmenting readers via all kinds of demographic targets. Computerized programmatic advertising systems will pay more for segmented content. Segments can be as simple as “above the fold,” or “male” or “female.” More complex segments — for example, 25-34-year-old females who own sailboats — will attract higher-paying programmatic advertising. We need to create and manage Digital Management Programs (DMPs).

•Networking within ownership groups (and hopefully across the industry), can provide means to internally redistribute and reuse content that has been produced and edited by professionals. Instead of (or in addition to) stories being reused only by outside aggregators, members of a network can share their own content. This can help programmatic ad rates, too, by driving traffic volumes up.

•Hashing for marketing/advertising purposes is relatively new. Originally, hashing was created as a security measure to protect email addresses. Marketers have figured out how to use the unique values created by the hashed emails to track active users on the Internet. So, give your email to a retailer and they can identify you when you have logged on to a website with your email address. Retailers are now asking media companies for hashed emails.

Okay I have to confess that I had to call Marc and ask about the last point. Even then I needed Google to help me toward a fuller understanding. Here’s one of the best explanations I found was on ClickZ.

Wilson’s point is well taken. As an industry we must first understand the technology being used against us. Then we must decide how to use it for our benefit and against our enemies. Otherwise local journalism as we know it dies.

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