confident papers can
Mel Taylor thinks that newspapers can master the hyperlocal aggregator website model and develop it into a revenue stream.
That can be achieved by building websites structured more around advertising and by maintaining good relationships with local mom-and-pop stores that will purchase advertising space, Taylor said.
Taylor, who conducted a workshop on “Hyperlocal revenue review” at the New England Newspaper and Press Association’s winter convention in the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, acknowledged that hyperlocal sites take advertisers from newspapers, but said those in the news business need to embrace what their competitors are doing to win back clients.
“Don’t let somebody talk to your customer,” Taylor said.
He argued that newspapers can hold onto advertisers by developing their websites better.
Taylor shared with members of the audience a list of sites they should look to for a hyperlocal template. They included Patch.com, aroundmainline.com, reachlocal.com, datasphere.com and golocal.com.
“Study these sites – and when I say study, I mean just look at them,” Taylor said.
He manages Mel Taylor Media, a company based in Philadelphia that helps local media develop strategies for online revenue. Taylor encouraged the audience not only to be aware of what the competition is doing, but not to be afraid to model the best of what they are doing with layouts and content management.
Competitive sites also make mistakes, which provide another learning opportunity for newspapers.
Taylor showed those at the workshop, held Friday, Feb. 10, examples of sites cramming too many ads on one page. He also showed examples of poor placement of ads.
Newspapers can also learn from mistakes in their own industry, Taylor said. A key problem in development of online sites is that sales experts are often brought in later, after Web technicians have built a fancy website, Taylor said. Instead, advertising experts should be involved at the very beginning of website development.
“Where’s the sales guys?” Taylor asked his audience of about 25 people. “Don’t bring in sales later.”
Having brilliant but unqualified people do the job of a salesperson won’t work, Taylor said. At the beginning of Taylor’s presentation, he showed an eight-minute video of media professionals trying, and failing, to explain how to create online revenue.
“It’s not that you guys can’t do it. It’s because people are not financially motivated,” Taylor said.
One person needs to be motivated, but also held accountable for the development of online advertising. If newspapers want to stop losing business to hyperlocal sites, they need to become more invested, Taylor said.
Using Patch.com as an example of a successful hyperlocal, Taylor told his audience that hyperlocal is not a passing trend.
Although “Patch is a horrible name,” and the brand might not be around forever, “lots of stuff Patch does will never go away,” Taylor said.
Part of the anxiety surrounding hyperlocal is that the news business thinks it is a new concept.
Not true, Taylor argued.
“Local newspapers have been doing hyperlocal forever,” Taylor said.
Now newspapers just need to let advertisers put it all in the context of the Internet, Taylor said.
Taylor stressed that he thinks that newspapers can be successful with the hyperlocal model.
“If this all sounds too easy, it’s because we’ve all been brainwashed,” Taylor said.
Mel Taylor’s website at Mel Taylor Media is available here.
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