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Local digital: Find simple ways to exploit fragmentation and win

If you’re the publisher of a local newspaper, then you know your competition is no longer another newspaper when it comes to growing your digital ad revenue. You’re fighting with Google, Facebook, Angie’s List, Yelp…. a list that seems to be ever growing. But does any one of these companies hold a dominant position in your market?

In an eye-opening article in the August issue of Local Media Today, author Gordon Borrell says no: The local digital advertising market is highly fragmented, with no one service holding anything close to a dominant position. Borrell’s findings are based on a survey he is conducting of local advertisers across the United States. These early findings are based on more than 1,400 responses. (He’s shooting for 8,000.)

When asked an open ended question regarding where local SMB advertisers are spending their local digital dollars, 91% offered unique responses.

local digital graph borrell
No one company has anything close to a dominant position in local digital advertising. 

Among Borrell’s findings:

  • Heavily-advertised companies like Web.com, Angie’s List, Wix, and Reputation.com had no more than 3 mentions each.
  • Anyone trying to serve auto dealers faces heavy-duty competition. Purecars, Cobalt, Autotrader.com, Dealer.com, Ford Direct and others popped up frequently in many local markets.
  • In some locales, the names of a local newspaper or cable company popped up as frequently as big names like Facebook and Google.

Borrell’s take-away, which I share, is that this fragmentation represents significant opportunity for local news operations to achieve dominance with the right strategy. While sites like Autotrader and Angie’s List certainly work for searchers, local newspapers are still the best discovery vehicle out there. You have the audience, trust, relationships and, with the right strategy, reach that these companies can never duplicate.

The trick is turn those assets into action by converting discovery into connections between your advertisers and readers. If you can nail that, then you will be the one dominating Borrell’s survey question.

Learn how TextConnext can help you turn discovery into action with our affordable and powerful cloud-based SMS messaging system. 

Here’s what happened when we launched a publication just to test our mobile SMS platform

When you create a new digital advertising platform, there are a few ways you can test it out. You can give it to beta-testers. You can just start selling it customers. Or you can put your money where your mouth is and launch your own publication to test it out.

That’s what we did.

We knew that TextConnext made sense. The platform provides a simple, powerful and affordable way for newspaper publishers to activate their print ads to drive sales for their advertisers and deliver amazing ROI using the technology Americans use more than any other: Text messaging.

Learn more about the TextConnext platform and benefits here. 

To ensure that the TextConnext platform would work in the real world-and especially in markets with countywide populations of 30,000 and higher-we did the unheard of:

We launched a brand new PRINT publication!

That’s right. While the ever growing legions of naysayers parrot their predictions about the death of newspapers, we put our money where our mouth is and created a “Printeractive” Shopper with a print run of 22,000 utilizing TextConnext technology.

Our first weekly issue hit the streets on Aug. 20, 2015, dropping at just over 21,300 delivery points.

We were PROFITABLE in 6 months, and now we’re eyeing expansion into new territories while also offering our technology to other forward-thinking publishers who want to partner with a company that’s “been there, done that” and knows how to drive newspaper revenue through smart, practical innovation.

Here are the results.

As of June 30, 2016 – with just 10 months of operation:

  • 3,976 unique mobile devices engaged with TextConnext enabled programs: almost 1 out of 5 based on our 21,300 delivery points.
  • 436 unique mobile numbers were used to enter our Trivia Contest, which is tracked separately from other contests.
  • 934 people entered other contests using their mobile device.
  • 1,972 texted in for more information on merchant offers.
  • 486 unique numbers have used the texting system to place classifieds.
  • 954 people have used a cell phone to register and verify their user account on Mines and Pines.
  • 5,026 requests for information have gone through our Real Estate system. (Real Estate Interaction is tracked separately.)

The product lines that drive the most activity are:

  • Real Estate
  • Automotive
  • Dining
  • Liquor

If we can drive results like this for a brand new shopper in upper Minnesota, imagine what TextConnext can do for your established newspaper. Contact us to find out.