Tag Archives: digital advertising

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 altweeklies.com.

What Happened? Favorites from 2011 Blog Posts

By Mark Hanzlik, AWN Executive Director

Since this is the time of year when just about everyone who has a blog or web site publishes a top-10 or best-of list instead of covering real news or offering their usual opinions, I thought it would be a good time to do that same. I say that admitting that I’m as guilty as the next guy and therefore offer some of my favorites from 2011 with a few caveats:

1) The following are not necessarily the best, or biggest of the year but topics that caught my attention.

2) I’m usually biased toward the unusual stories that fly below the radar but often-covered stories can be also interesting if the approach is different or view

3) Opinion pieces seldom hold up and while there is a place for those kinds of stories, I’m taking a pass on those without solid research here.

DIGITAL TECH: Facebook and Spotify were among the year’s hottest digital media companies, covered by AdWeek in their “Top 10 Tech Stories of 2011” in early December.   This one is a no-brainer, Facebook has eclipsed everyone and Spotify was the sleeper that burst into the big-time this year as well.   We often blogged about the Web Radio’s audience growth and ad revenue growth online in 2011, and surely Pandora and Spotify are part of that big story.

FUTURE OF RETAIL: The best story I read this year about the retail biz also came near the end of the year.  “The Future of Retail? Look to Its Past” arrived via Harvard Business Review in what can only be described as HBR’s Blog Forum.   It’s a compelling piece about those in retail embracing technology yet retaining the human aspects of the transaction (i.e. face-to-face interactions, etc.)

DIGITAL TRENDS: AdWeek nailed this one back in October;  offering the six most transformative trends in digital marketing.    We blogged about this important digital story here on our own site on Oct 31st.  The merging of mobile and desktop, and the value of specialized content on the web will resonate the most and will no doubt be important topics in 2012.

HYPER-LOCAL: Coverage of everything Hyper-Local was overwhelming in 2011. Not only was it a buzzword for digital news coverage, geo-targeted advertising and new kind of journalism, it served as the launch pad for the success and failure of AOL’s Patch investment which ended the year on a down note.   We first covered the hyper-local subject in September.

FUTURE OF NEWSPAPERS: This one wasn’t too hard to sort out because every story about newspapers (mobile development, daily deals, Sunday insert conversion to the web, etc.) all pointed to the same future. I’ll go with recent release by USC Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism Study which will be fully issued in January titled “Is America at a Digital Turning Point?” Numerous magazines, alternative publications, radio and television stations all jumped on this story and declared death will come quickly “Newspapers Dead Within Five Years.”

We’re ready for another year of changes in media, advertising and digital, tracking all the pluses and minuses.  I hope all the positive changes in 2011 bode well for the year to come.

Content and Targeted Advertising in Conflict?

By Mark Hanzlik, Executive Director

A piece in AdWeek yesterday posed an awfully loaded question for digital advertisers, one which has puzzled ad buyers for some time.   Is Targeting Killing Content Advertising? According to AdWeek, apparently the answer is no.


The questions were posed at a panel gathering for Business Insider’s Ignition conference earlier this week.   The consensus of the panelists pointed toward co-existence between targeted advertising and content advertising.   They point out that targeting technologies for the most part ignore content, thereby only partially providing ad buying strategies that blend both of these important marketing ingredients.

For those of us on the publishing side, the challenge remains noteworthy.   Potential digital advertisers and agencies must be informed and armed with this kind of thinking before they stake a claim in either direction (content-driven ad buying or targeting-only).    There is a need for a better buying model online that hasn’t quite arrived yet in my opinion.

Digital Advertising Trends

By Mark Hanzlik, Executive Director

I delayed blogging about this AdWeek post immediately as I like to be certain there is stickiness to statements that inform readers of “trends” within any industry or a certain topic.   Everyone is an expert and in this rapidly changing online industry, there are more trends that we can shake an iStick at.

This short AdWeek article (list) brings together the same exciting convergence that is occurring on a macro level all around us in the world of digital media.  Trends: Digital Advertising, The six most transformative in online marketing. Although the discussions that followed the posting of these six significant trends were fairly slim on AdWeek’s site, one can quickly understand why these were chosen as hot button topics.

Click-Through-Rate-ChartThe death of the click through. Advertisers and publishers want this death to occur and for good reason. It’s not the way to measure success, especially for brand advertisers, even for those selling goods the old-fashioned way (driving foot traffic to brick ‘n’ mortar stores) and merchandising similar goods online. Arguments about what constitutes an effective click through rate or what drives the cost up or down will persist regardless of whom is to blame. What I believe is more important in this debate is what is a true ad impression, and on the other end of the transaction, what action results from the ad(s) and how can this all be tied together in a much tidier package for digital ad buying novices.

The merging of mobile and desktop. This has gone from being a side-by-side discussion to a singular one in a very short amount of time. Remember the days when we worried about sharing simple files between PC’s and Mac’s. Although there’s plenty of competing manufacturers, the demand for integration and a common platform remains too great for anyone to deny. I can’t wait for OSX and iOS to marry.

The persistence of supercookies. These things don’t travel like noroviruses, but it does call for a lot of discontent among web viewers. Just when we thought we had learned to live with “cookies” now we get a super concoction that behaves like a cockroach.

The beginnings of ad-tech consolidation. Every time I read about another consolidation deal, it comes with the promise of improvements in all aspects of our digital experience. Other than producing additional ad capabilities, and more talking points influencing stock prices, the ultimate result is stronger marketing clout.   While this is certainly not a situation where the horse has left the stable,  maybe the benefits will come simply in the form of  further media integration and cross-platform advertising improvements.

The rise of HTML5. I don’t know a lot about HTML5, but  I do know Adobe Flash has already grown a ZZ Top-like beard and is ready for the bone-yard.   When Apple says no to a format on their hottest mobile devices, it sends a signal across other platforms as well.

The value of specialized content. As with click through, specialized content can generate endless debate. Clearly the discussion around effectiveness of advertising and web sites themselves goes back to one singular element, content. Just as brands and products thrive when they are relevant, interesting, and desired, so too must the ads and the marketers who inhabit the web these days. Think about it, what sites you visit and how often and whether you purchase merchandise of any kind. Then, think about how valuable your digital footprint (or cookie) becomes, or how your endorsement of that brand or business can influence the way they make money.   I spend most of my online time in specialized areas of interest myself which can only be a good thing for those content providers, once they’ve figured out how to monetize the experience.

Check out AdWeek‘s summary of these six trends by Anthony Ha from October 18, 2011.

Scales Are Tipped in Favor of Web Advertising

By Mark Hanzlik, AWN Executive Director

After years of speculation as to when newspaper advertising scales would be tipped in the direction of web advertising versus print advertising, it’s no longer a question of when.   From now on it will only be a question of how much.

We’re now beginning to look back on the first year that digital advertising in the U.S. became the number one advertising source for newspapers (local and national).   Online ad spending is expected to reach $25.8 billion by year end while print ads measure $22.8 billion.   According to eMarketer, “Online ads are typically seen as more reliable… their effectiveness can be measured, whereas print ads are difficult to measure.”  That’s always been a true statement since web advertising arrived on the scene in the 90’s, but it’s been difficult to measure out a winning formula for newspapers when print was so dominant.  Not so any longer.


This blog entry seems timely on the heels of our last entry where we cited NAA’s reports of newspaper revenue declines, a story in which the NAA heralded economic recovery for newspapers based on this multi-platform growth.  While I’m still trying hard to subscribe to the glass-half-full thinking, it’s hard not to recognize this as another cold gust to the face in the bleak mid-Winter.

Many of us knew this day would eventually arrive and newspapers would not only be faced with a different revenue model outlook for the future but at the same time a notable change in journalism itself.  For advertisers, and retail in particular this portends a very different future for longer-term planning and strategies to reach new and existing customers under a rapidly changing sales and marketing environment.   This will be a beacon call for more revised print advertising budgets and plans that require digital integration, especially for more traditional print advertising war-horses who have yet to make the major commitment to digital.

For more from an earlier post on Bloomberg.com