In News Industry, a Stark Divide Between Haves and Have-Nots — AffinityX Can Help

05/09/2019

Last week, The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting and relevant piece titled “In News Industry, a Stark Divide Between Haves and Have-Nots.” It is behind a WSJ paywall, but if you have a subscription, you can click to the article here.

The premise is that local newspapers failed to make the digital transition that larger players did — and are now in danger of disappearing. For the article, The Journal did an analysis of circulation, advertising, financial and employment data, and reports a “stark divide” between national players and local ones when it comes to survival rates.

For example, national publications like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post have seen an average 29% drop in circulation over the past 6 years or so, but the median drop in circulation at major metro outlets like The Houston Chronicle and The Chicago Tribune was 41% over that same timeframe. The picture was even dimmer for mid-sized papers like The Oregonian and Dallas Morning News — circulation fell 45%. Local papers simply have trouble converting online readers into subscribers.

In addition, Facebook and Google were cited as key competitors for local advertising spending (no surprise to anyone), a market that newspapers used to have locked up. The duopoly siphoned off 77% of the digital advertising revenue in local markets, compared to 58% on a national level (Sources: Borrell Associates and eMarketer).

At AffinityX, we partner with local media companies to help them survive — and even thrive — in the age of local. Many newspaper clients are generating new profitable revenue in the seven figures with AffinityX AudienceX, and significantly reducing non-core costs by leveraging our digital and print ad production expertise, pre-press services, and partnerships with other leading solutions, such as TownNews’ BLOX Total CMS (content management system) for newspapers that choose to outsource editorial page design/production.

Rudi Alcott, Director Digital Revenue, Sound Publishing, has said, “This relationship [with AffinityX] has enabled us to target customers we had no ability to work with previously, as we were viewed as a typical-print centric company. Additionally, this opened the door to a different set of budgets that we were not exposed to before — the companies that we work with typically keep their digital budgets separate from any other kind of advertising. This has positioned our company to better compete and grow.

Mark Flaviani, Advertising Operations Director, Sonoma Media has commented on AffinityX’s page planning services: “We could feed them 100 ads by 7 p.m. and they’re done by 7 a.m. We used to have to cut sales off in order to account for ad-building time and selling, but now we can extend those deadlines and let people sell for up to a week longer, which adds to revenue.

Mark Poss, CEO of Big Fish Works, a mutual client of AffinityX and TownNews, noted, “We’re excited that AffinityX and TownNews are partnering to make the newspaper businesses more efficient because they are both the best-in-class for what they do. There has been a shifting mindset in which publishers are more comfortable handing off processes we used to own to outsourcing partners who can take the burden off the in-house team. Big Fish Works is one of these more forward-thinking publishers.

We appreciate that this is a very challenging time for local media companies, but we are here to help. Contact us today!