MediaXchange, U. S. newspapers&#eight thousand two hundred seventeen; biggest industry event, will be an echo chamber without solutions

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 6:19 PM

How to connect the network The Newspaper Organization of America’s annual MediaXchange conference is this weekend. And while I won’t be at this year’s event, I’ve been a “member”, attendee and sponsor in the past, and will attend again in the future.

MediaXchange, U. S. newspapers&#eight thousand two hundred seventeen; biggest industry event, will be an echo chamber without solutions

Matt Mitchell is a new media executive focused on subscription strategies, user acquisition, e-commerce and finance.

How to connect the network

The Newspaper Organization of America’s annual MediaXchange conference is this weekend. And while I won’t be at this year’s event, I’ve been a “member”, attendee and sponsor in the past, and will attend again in the future.

Love the seventeenth iteration of Groundhog Day, sessions will focus on digital issues newspapers continue to face. (Advice: if you wish to live, don’t play a drinking game at MediaXchange where the sip trigger is someone saying “In the new digital world…” It was the “new world” twenty yearsago. Presently it’s just the world.)

By presently we all know the problem. U. S. newspapers are losing a billion dollars in income a year. Many have gone out of business and those that stay have forty percent smaller staffs than they did in 1989.

But obtain this: newspapers actually have the advantage now.

The most frustrating portion of newspapers’ downward spiral is that it’s happening while they've the greatest competitive advantage in the crowded “new digital world.” (Drink.). In our cluttered digital landscape consumers are less trusting and more cynical than ever before, making powerful brands tough to build and harder still to sustain. Digital native publishers would murder to have the brand awareness and trust that newspapers have cultivated over decades. Even if they’ve cancelled their subscription, people still have an attachment to their local newspaper that the Huffington Posts of the world can’t replicate.

The idea of newspaper brand believe isn’t all that novel and won’t be overlooked at MediaXchange.

According to David Chavern, NAA’s new CEO: “Legacy newspapers actually have a huge advantage [because] if you've high-value branded content with growing engagement by valued consumers, then your ad inventory is both scarce and valuable.”

The problem, which I think newspapers would be the first admit, is that they've barely begun to leverage this advantage.

Number solution interior the echo chamber.

Believe is everything if you wish to create money. Blue chip brands only work with and pay premiums to trusted blue chip content creators.

MediaXchange will again see to leverage that big “S” in their SWOT discussions (they won’t call it SWOT because that’s lame but they’ll have the discussion). Unfortunately, what'll then ensue is a massive ad-tech and social media echo chamber — copied, pasted, repackaged amalgams of the same intransigent formulas from a playbook that’s been dusted off, recycled and sold for more than it was initially worth.

This dynamic isn’t happening because of industry or management incompetence. I’ve worked with hundreds of newspapers and they're an incredibly bright group. So why are newspapers failing to right the ship? It can be boiled down to two problems.

Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism did a study not too long ago called The Search for a New Business Model. In exchange for anonymity, newspaper executives gave startlingly candid commentary.

More than three quarters said their single biggest challenge was their newspaper’s internal culture. One said, “You can modify CEOs, executive VPs, digital VPs. You can wave this magic wand all you want. But at the finish of the day, the troops in the field hunker down.”

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After years of being pitched seven-minute-ab ideas from the youthful smooth talking “new media” and reading how horrible things are, who wouldn’t lose some mojo and freeze a bit?

I’d love to hear more ideas that are totally new models for newspapers rather than attempts to better optimize what they’re already doing. For instance:

Idea one: Be the digital commerce destination for your community.

There is tons of contest in flash sales, daily deals, subscription fashion boxes and other e-commerce plays. All the funding in the space has resulted in strong API’s and players with the resources to create interesting partnerships. Sites love Shopify, Zulily and Gilt should be jumping at the opportunity to partner with newspapers.

Conversion rates are directly proportional to consumer’s level of trust. According to Pew Research, customers terminate seventy percent of online purchases because of a lack of trust. If only there was an industry group with one hundred+ years of built-in brand equity!

Mobile proliferation works in newspapers’ favor too. Mobile commerce is growing nearly three times faster than all other e-commerce. fifty percent of all mobile searches are conducted in hopes of finding local results, and sixty-one percent of those searches result in some sort of purchase. (Look for Engine Watch). According to NAA, half of the one hundred eighty million unique newspaper visitors utilize a mobile device exclusively. Hmmm….

Don’t do this halfway though…

Dipping their toes in e-commerce isn’t a totally foreign idea to newspapers. Okanjo, a start-up that allows for Facebook style “Buy-it-now” buttons in ads, was selected as a winner in NAA’s Accelerator Pitch program in two thousand-fifteenth. While a excellent start, this is still following the leader. “Facebook is doing what? Can we do that?”

Giving readers the skill to purchase a half second after seeing an ad has been around for years. Buy-it-now buttons interior ad genuine estate provides a more storefront feel, giving newspapers the hope that they can capture more of the shared economics of a purchase. But effective RPM (Income per thousand impressions) data proves that it’s nothing more than ads repackaged with some interactivity. The pitch is appealing but at the finish of the day all it'll do is shift business to a different ad-tech startup, only marginally improving ad income for newspapers.

Ideas love this are still “inside-the-box” thinking. Not metaphorically, I imply literally interior the same div or iframe ad-box where newspapers currently mine the majority of their insufficient digital revenue.

Remember, their cheese was moved to Mars; looking below the seat cushion in the living room isn’t going to disclose a transformative revenue stream.

It needs to be deeper. With the right partnerships digital papers can be a destination. They don’t necessity to be just another distribution channel for e-commerce companies.

Consumers have to be nurtured through each portion of the buying funnel and be made alert that newspapers are presently their trusted source to for products and deals. Notify your users (over and over) that you're supporting your community by finding and partnering with the best deals and products, with the best service, from the best companies. You’re opening a Seattle Times store!

Instead of hoping your users purchase a hoverboard while they’re reading about city council initiatives, you’ll have branded yourself has a space to go for deals and potentially even common online shopping down the road. You should even have a separate Curated Deals app.

Then you’re not just catching up to Facebook, you’re leveraging an asset Facebook doesn’t have.

Facebook’s only similar market option is relying on its users to market products to their friends. They can’t be a trusted commerce brand because they lack that whole, you know, trust part.

Idea two: Get on changing demographics more aggressively.

Fewer than twenty percent of people ages 25-34 read the newspaper daily, down from forty-one percent in two thousand-third. Incredibly though – defying the laws of everything – while newspapers are in a freefall, applications to journalism schools are skyrocketing. This will leave millions of writers so starved to be printed that they’ll likely give their content far to Demand Media. Wait, this is already happening.

Who do you think youthful journalists who speak millennia would rather have on their resume – Demand Media or the LA Times?

You don’t even have to wait until they graduate and necessity to create a genuine salary. Give them beat gigs and brand them “Ground Troops.” It'll be a prestigious position. And don’t get applications: organize a contest where you choose a few for each portion of your paper.

These ground troopers will be writing with nothing to lose, and everything to gain from making a splash.

If you choose the right ones, they’ll bring the millennials to you. Millennials who purchase things and influence others.

They’ll also bring a contagious new energy and challenge the elderly guard to step up. Growing up, every time our family dog would obtain elderly we’d purchase a puppy. Guess what? Damnit if that elderly dog didn’t obtain a second wind! He sure did. What I’m saying is, purchase your family a new pup. He’ll be annoying and you’ll have to potty train him but he’ll also be amazing.

Give them podcast and videocast platforms too. The no of annual podcast downloads is over three billion presently and growing by more than fifty percent per year. You don’t have to create the following Serial. These are low risk, high return investments, so toss a bunch of them on the wall and look what sticks. The only reason newspaper content has been exclusively article-based the last one hundred years is because delivering tape recorders on subscriber’s lawns every morning wasn’t a cost effective distribution strategy.

Idea 3: Evolve your governing body.

According to intense research I did scanning headshots on the NAA’s Board of Directors webpage they don’t have one member below the age of forty-five. As boards go, this is common and generally there’s nothing wrong with it. But if attracting youth is your greatest problem this seems love low hanging fruit. I would go so distant as to the chosen 2-3 Univ learner representatives on a rolling basis.

The NAA should authorize all journalism schools accredited by the ACEJMC to the chosen a learner representative to attend MediaXchange for free each year. That’s fewer than one hundred fifty students. Authorize them all to apply to be on a new learner panel at MediaXchange as well.

The board should've every director choose an exhibitor they’ve never met to have coffee or a beer with at MediaXchange. You can call it “Spicoli meets Mr. Hand” (working title). Those exhibitors are the people trying to solve newspaper problems. ninety percent of them are digital monetization and engagement people, right? Sounds love a excellent opportunity to me. The NAA board members could keep an internal draft every year to determine who gets to meet with which each exhibitor.

Closing thoughts.

Newspapers will never appreciate an oligopoly again. We live in a world where the series finales of Breaking Bad, Crazy Men and The Office combined had fewer viewers than the series finale of Alf. As Chris Rock says, “people are only as faithful as their options.” Consumers are still into you, newspapers, but big, sweeping changes have to happen now.

Newspapers are reaching a critical point. Their brands are on the precipice of significant cost and opportunity loss. When the tail-end of the millennials who don’t have fond memories of their parents reading the paper enter their 30’s and control the most coveted brand demographic, it'll be over.

Nobody has a stopwatch on precisely when that'll happen but I do know the needle needs to start moving faster now.

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