The US-based Local Media Association serves more than 2,400 local media companies (newspapers, TV, radio, directories, pure plays, and more) through a variety of programs, conferences, webinars, research and training to help them with their digital transitions.
Nancy Lane will moderate the Small and Mid-Sized Publishers Annual Meeting during WAN-IFRA’s World News Media Congress in Cartagena, Colombia at 13:30 on Sunday, 12 June.
In this interview, Lane talks about what she and her group (pictured above at Facebook) saw on their recent study tour, who she sees doing video well and how small to mid-sized publishers in North America are faring.
WAN-IFRA: With video user demand increasing dramatically and Facebook pushing video content over articles (new algorithm), the pressure would seem to be greater than ever on publishers to produce more video. How are small- and medium-sized publishers coping with this? Who is doing it well and why?
Nancy Lane: This is such a timely topic as we just returned from visits at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube during our annual Innovation Mission last week. Every visit emphasized video and we believe that all publishers should double down in this area immediately.
Small and medium-sized publishers are using platforms such as Tout (a smart phone app) to arm their teams with easy-to-use products to shoot and post videos. They are then monetizing those videos via a rev-share agreement (they can sell or the the platform provider will).
These media companies are also using platforms such as Newsy (syndicates videos that are aimed at millennial audience; also with a rev-share model). Both strategies are making it easier for publishers to produce and monetize more video.
There are also opportunities with Facebook Live for media companies to monetize their videos as well as Instagram and YouTube.
Companies that are doing it well include GateHouse Media (using both Tout and Newsy), Swift Communications (company-wide Tout rollout last year) and Calkins Media (investing heavily in an OTT strategy and monetizing via sponsorships.)
In general, how are small and mid-sized newspapers doing in the US? Are they faring better than larger metro dailies?
They are certainly faring better than the large metro dailies but disruption continues to challenge them as well. I am encouraged by the amount of innovation that we are seeing from small and mid-size publishers.
They have created successful digital agencies, launched full-blown events divisions, are selling a lot of native advertising and more. They are focused on diversifying revenue and it is starting to pay off.
My favorite example is the Victoria Advocate, a 30,000 daily in Victoria, Texas. They are transforming into a media company of the future and serve as a role model for the industry.
What are the top few digital concerns of the publishers you work with?
Distributed content is a huge concern right now. A lot of traffic comes to newspaper web sites from social media sites and that model is changing with the creation of Facebook’s Instant Articles and more.
I am optimistic that our industry can work out an agreement that addresses these concerns. Another concern is attracting top digital talent. It is very difficult to find good digital sales executives.
Click here to see Lane’s top quotes from this year’s LMA Innovation Mission.