Media Transformation Talk | adtech chicago notes

Thanks to ad:tech Chicago for granting me a media pass to cover their September 1 and 2 conference on twitter and here. In addition to this post, check out Amanda Mooney’s blog post: Lebolt says, “It’s not the last chapter; it is merely Chapter 11.”

The session notes you see here are lightly edited and were not reviewed by panelists for accuracy. Edits and comments welcome.

adtech_chicagoThe Transformation of News Media: How to Thrive in the Age of Chaos

Transformation of News Media Session Description from

Digital technologies and platforms are fundamentally transforming the news media industry and the change only seems to be accelerating. However, although the imminent demise of the metropolitan daily newspaper has been widely chronicled and one of the nation’s largest publishers, The Tribune Company, is still in bankruptcy, the predicted widespread destruction of news media has yet to materialize. In this changing environment, media companies—old and new—are showing signs of true innovation and are exploring new delivery systems and business models. Come hear from leading news media companies about how they see the future, how they are innovating in the digital age and how they see the emerging value proposition for advertisers within this rapidly evolving ecosystem.

David Griesing, Chief Business Correspondent, The Chicago Tribune

Mark Marvel, Senior Director of Video Monetization, MSNBC
Kinsey Wilson, Senior VP and General Manager, NPR Digital Media
Kay Madati, VP, Audience Experience & Engagement, CNN Worldwide
Fred Lebolt, President and Publisher, Sun Times Newspaper Group Suburban News Division and New Media Integration

Sun Times – Localized focus
Is it the the end of the newspaper business? No, it’s merely Chapter 11.
This is a locally focused organization, good at creating content at the local level, which is a market for their activity.
Differentiator: very large and very good sales team
Combine: quality local content creation w/ hundreds of clients
Not pessimistic about the paper channel, as long as it has audiences, it will have a future. Will be as valuable as the other channels they’re developing. Defining metrics for success is a critical element of how they do what they do. Will be able to work through this difficult time.

Mark Marvel,
Everyblock is hyperlocal and as a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC News, it benefits from both sides of the ecosystem.
Haven’t figured out what the business looks like for local, making acquisitions: newsvine was another.
Start to think about monetizing models. It’s going to be complimenting an advertising base.

Views on growth trajectory of video

Kay Madati, CNN
Has some of the most robust world-wide content available.
CNN is investing and growing, looking at assets and leveraging video.
Looking at this from the audience’s eyes. Google makes news a commodity. We’re all challenged to make our news more compelling. Otherwise, we lose the game.

Looking at the marketing example, when you get into a scale discussion: unbelievable difference in scale. YouTube moneitizes 4-6% of views. Online video ad spending is yet to reach $1 B, TV is $70-80 billion. Looking for ways to leverage for the viewer. One of the challenges is trying to grow a base against the quality content. Focused on cross-media: online, cable and network.

How do find new media channels while staying true to the mission?

Kinsey Wilson, NPR
“NPR is the only channel people put in their personal ads.” – got a laugh from the audience
25% of the revenue comes from corporate underwriting. In a position of having a stable and growing audience of 27M per week. Huge opportunity: only news organization in the country that has national coverage with 300 stations that have feet on the ground. Sees a real opportunity to network the day together. Also feel that it’s an advantage that they don’t have big, established organizations in the communities.

Unique differentiator: NPR is the only organization that delivers audio at the same quality level. Success with iPhone app – between #8 and #9 on apps.

Moderator: When the Sun Times site was high, much of it was because of Roger Ebert. Is there any opp for a site that has an asset like that to expand or reach beyond “This American Life?”

Sun Times: The way we’ve had to evolve, as has Roger, is to move towards a more multi-media structure and to create new product around those niches. Example: high school sports, which is wildly popular in local markets. Can take a target, comprehensive, product stream that is an opportunity for ad clients. One of the keys to unlocking monetization of local content is the database. Using, in a sense, the apps model: deeply relevant social engagement.

NPR: This is a medium that rewards specialization. Delivers news with a combination of story and whimsy at the same time.

CNN: There isn’t a client that isn’t pushing for coverage across the platform. Partnerships with Facebook, twitter integration onto on-air. Advertisers want to be highlighted in all of these places; sponsorships wholly-integrated into segments on-air. Editorial isn’t driven by ads, find innovative ways to do it on a case by case basis. Documentaries allow for long tail journalism: Planet in Peril -focus on green issues.

Moderator: Is the tail long enough to cover the costs of Planet in Peril?

CNN: I think so. Working hand in hand with sales team to put ads out into the market, It’s a little bit easier when you’re not dealing with breaking news.

MSNBC: Taking to David McCormick, very progressive. Scope was the subject regarding the control an advertiser has in the subject matter. Have the broadest spectrum of types of ads in online video. Difference is for an advertiser: they shouldn’t care where people are watching. Starting to see the 5th quintile – the add in day part. Some ads are great for the advertiser, but not for the viewer who’s watching on the computer. Start looking at how to target content. Great examples from live events. Find all the keywords in a transcript -sponsors can buy terms like “hope.” Haven’t figured out how to monetize it yet, but viewers love it.

CNN: Talking about integrating platforms, if they hadn’t invested in promoting twitter they wouldn’t be where they are today.

Moderator: Iran protests – the only channel it was an was through twitter. Is that a friend or foe to CNN?

CNN: Three ways social media affects news: 1. News gathering – have to participate in the conversations going on, have to put a voice and a value on it 2. publishing and delivery – you have to be a player, because news is happening, they got killed in the social media universe for running taped programming with Iran was breaking 3. audience engagement via twitter and Skype – changing the business

Audience: What do you think about paid content?

Sun TImes: Looking at a variety of ways to monetize this expensive product we produce every day. Future: vertical niches, convenience factors – will be easy to get. There is a model for willing to pay: the app. People are willing to pay to get news and be entertained. The advantage to pay: finely tuned audience that comes in, but will be smaller. Is the value to you of a much smaller, but more finely tuned audience greater to you than a larger, but broader audience.

NPR: People will pay for news content bundled in a certain way. The logic of this technology is that it’s very wide open and very perishable. Tough hill to climb. It’s not about metering the news or getting people to pay for the news.

CNN: iPhone has a $9.99 NPR app – there’s a reason people pick that over free services. There is people that would pay for regular articles from certain journalists. There’s a value for highly differentiated and targeted articles.

NPR: Will make more money on sponsorships than apps.

MSNBC: Apple is the king of the walled garden. Looking across different industries, these models will shift Future is not to put up some false way and charge people.

Moderator: Two issues in the news: Rupert Murdoch and micro-credits based on iTunes model.

Sun Times
Companies that do highly specialized and targeted content. Any thought to the view that brand equity has some value to the audience. A local model would work.

MSNBC: More viewers than the top 10 newspapers combined. There is a place in the funnel in the growth of niche industries: yachting, etc. What cable TV did to network.

NPR: Essentially trying to fund a back-end technology. Where ever they can capture revenue to determine where the threshold is.

Question: Apple is a walled garden. How do you get advertisers in when there is breaking news?

NPR: Challenging that people will pay for content on a per piece basis.

MSNBC: What creative is available? Could get that live in a couple of hours?

Sun Times: Model can work for live events, but many different constituencies have to get mobilized first. It’s more the media company recognizing the opportunity and getting creative around it.

MSNBC: Sprint is the now network.

Question: How are you filling the role of an advertising agency?

CNN: Challenged to create experiences for our advertisers. Working hand in hand with them.

NPR: Such a fluid environment – at USA Today had someone attached to sales that would take a longer-term view of the brand along with designers.

Sun Times: Agencies very open to working as partners. Had a major museum that we worked on to help with a social media campaign.

Your turn: what do you think is next for news media?

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