Juicing Up the Revenue: Options

Amy Gahran is right that ad departments need to be souped up, as she said in comments to Rich Gordon’s Oct. 15 Tidbit on business models.

Here are some possibilities:

  • Ad buying. News orgs’ ad reps could help businesses buy ads in other media. The ad department could become a one-stop shop, enabling the businesses to buy all its advertising through a single rep.

  • Advertorials in various media. Businesses could buy clearly labeled “columns” in which they can dispense information and advice about their areas of expertise. These could be grouped by subject with rotating publication periods.

  • Paid obits. For some people, obituaries are the most-read parts of the paper. This might seem morbid, but the products could be expanded. For a fee, obituary consultants could help families tell a story about their loved one, using any combination of text, audio, photos and videos.

  • RSS feeds. Many newspaper sites offer RSS feeds, but according to the Bivings Report none of those feeds include ads.

Other options include audio and video ads; page and site design and hosting; search of advertisers in certain area; and grouping ads that complement each other, such as dinner and a movie.

These ideas were appropriated from and inspired by Mark Cuban who’s not even in the industry.

But that’s part of the point — we need to get out of our silos.

The news industry has some contradictions. We go out and bring back the world to people every day. But we have little peripheral vision to see how we can apply lessons from elsewhere to ourselves.

Also in the comments to Gordon’s post, I think Elaine Clisham of API is right when she said, “We need to stop talking about advertising as though it’s the only source of revenue.”

She also said, “Advertising is all our advertising departments know.”

So, set up a “New Revenue Department.” If you try to glom something new onto something old, you’ll often get something that satisfies no one.

A body cannot disrupt itself. That’s what I learned from The Innovator’s Solution, in Philip Meyer’s class on Saving Journalism.

(Guest contributor Maurreen Skowran is copy editor at the Raleigh, N.C. News & Observer.)

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