Monthly Archives: February 2012

Helpful Ad Sales Advice from Ad Panelists at AAN Web Conference

By Mark Hanzlik, AWN Executive Director

I was surprised to see a post about the Alt Press yesterday from Sarah Kotlova, an account director at Digitaria on the ad agency’s blog page.    She was one of two panelists in a session titled “Trends in Digital Ads” at the AAN Web Conference Jan 26-28 in San Francisco.   It’s always convenient to have a digital follow-up  of a session from the presenter’s point-of-view.  Sarah’s wasn’t too unlike the actual exchange recalled from that Friday afternoon session.

The other panelist, Ben Pashman, a relatively new VP at Centro (@benpashman) had a clear and concise message; more rich media, pre-roll video and generally move faster into more technology in order to grow more inventory opportunities.  He boasted that Centro owns 60% of all local display advertising which I found to be both an exciting prospect for Alts but at the same time alarming.

Both Sarah and Ben suggested encouraging more user engagement with alt media web sites by deploying low-cost alternative solutions, and creative out-of-the box  approaches including outsourcing video production.

Sarah stressed the importance of creating a value proposition that is based from a digital-first direction, one where local Alt Media offer partnerships, sponsorships and a different path for advertisers (brands) to reach their audience.   This is coming from an agency person who knows there are plenty of ways to reach a local digital audience now, and often effective targeting, cpm and creative delivery can be achieved through other means.  Ouch.

Twitter No Fun For Real Journalists

By Mark Hanzlik, AWN Executive Director

David Carr (New York Times) chose to look in the mirror this week when he wrote a thoughtful, nuanced, non-judgemental piece about Twitter.   This is from the guy who didn’t exactly embrace the 140 characters initially but Carr has become a major commenter on that platform, and he writes about the business of Media.  What could be more perfect?

To tweet or not to tweet, that is still the question.

Twitter and mainstream media have been trading punches for some time, now we find that a number of  correspondents are getting the ax for tweets gone terribly wrong.   Carr lists recent examples of how Twitter has made life miserable for several journalists.  Some news media are now taking a more aggressive approach to the usage of Twitter in the workplace while others continue to see it as not only a means of communication but also a marketing and public relations tool.

Carr points out that even columnists must base their content on some form of reporting which often does involve more extensive, complicated information which cannot be easily tweeted.   Here’s a quote from Carr’s column that sums it up best in my opinion:

“A Twitter post is not a small news story or a column. It is a thought burped up, generally without consideration. Most big media organizations mediate the discourse of their employees because that’s the business they are in. More and more, media outlets may be seen as a federation of voices, but there has to be a there there, a single unifying principle or value.”

As he cleverly points out at the close of his column, even the discussion about whether or not Twitter news should be taken seriously is too long for the 140 character limit.

Coverage of Alts at SF Digital Confab Brings Attention to Opps

By Mark Hanzlik, AWN Executive Director

Just when we thought business media was done writing about The Alts, and our day in the sun had passed as far as being media darlings (late 90’s, early 00’s), we received some generally positive reviews by NetNewsCheck at our Web Conference in San Francisco.    NetNewsCheck writer Michael Depp traveled from his New Orleans base to what has become an annual Digital Conference held in San Francisco last week.

The Alt Industry coverage was mixed in both pieces published by NetNewsCheck.  The first “Alt Weeklies Mine Roots To Drive Web Rev” a one-on-one with Stranger founder, Tim Keck who says alts must draw on their strengths, and the second “Agile Alt Media Adapting to Digital Challenges” a round-up of a more diverse group of industry spokespeople, discussing the challenges and opportunities for alt media publishers in the digital world.

Depp also spoke with yours truly (Hanzlik) to gain some insight and get a read on the state of the industry from our point-of-view.   AWN’s digital network is comprised of nearly 170 individual web sites with more than half of those currently members of AAN.    From the large pool of sites,  digital revenue is estimated in 5-20% of overall ad revenue, though we’ve heard from some mid-size markets who are earning more than 20% of their current ad revenue from digital.

Much of the digital round-up story by Depp focused the limited resources Alt Publishers are facing in successfully transitioning their business model to a digital one.  He also gathered and presented the success stories from many of the mid-size and smaller market alt publishers, a positive sign the imprint many of these publications have made in their marketplace is long-standing and transferable to other platforms.

For more about the web convention, presentations and participants, check in to the AAN member section at