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Digital Transformation Journey | Part 1

Digital Transformation

Minding The Bends In The Road

For those involved in monetizing a newspaper, radio or television audience through “new media” you will find this an interesting read. Here are some thoughts (field tested with B2B and B2C) for better ways to build your strategy of making those digital gains Wall Street, your owners and your finance folks and sales associates are waiting for … being better at digital sales.

It is amusing to me that most in the media industry still isolate and label this delivery system with category names “new media” or “digital agency.” Some, if not most, have even created separate business units.

The simple fact is web pages and mobile devices have much in common with broadcast signals, cable, satellite or paper and ink. They are all a modality that your reader, viewer or listener chooses to engage. And they are engaging with your content. The more unique and interesting your content, the larger the audience or “eyes” you can deliver.

Often times what gets lost in today’s media space is “who” you reach and “how” you reach them, “when” you reach them and “what” your expectations are once you reach the audience. The same principle that you employ with a grocery section on Wednesday, morning drive or the local news.

With digital no longer the lead story … it become more important to understand what the competition really looks like.

Lets look at “local” media. Usually there is a weekly or daily newspaper. Some markets have an alternative weekly. Then there are a half dozen or so radio stations. Most likely a local cable carrier, and depending on the size of your market, a television station or two.

So that’s your competitive landscape?

Not by any stretch of the imagination!

  • There are estimated to be just over 1,300 daily newspapers.

  • The FCC shows 4,698 AM and 6,666 FM Commercial full-power radio stations in the US at the end of 2013.

  • An additional 4,091 FM stations classified as Educational.

  • There are 1,388 full power TV stations.

  • There are an additional 396 TV stations classified as educational.

  • Add to this mix the local Cable TV operator, the High Speed Fiber networks and Satellite.

Newspaper & Television Competition

Compare that to design firms and ad agencies that are in direct competition for the digital spend. If you include a broad definition as we have at Agency Spotter (including everything from digital agencies, PR firms, design studios, and even research firms), then there are more than 120,000 "agencies" in the US alone and over half a million worldwide.

Let’s do the math … that means on average there are 92 companies that are ready willing and competing with each newspaper. Same is true for television stations. Think about that for just a moment. 92:1. What that tells us is that your organization has to be remarkably better to gain the advertiser’s confidence which leads to their spend. You need to quickly know what you are selling and how it will impact and deliver the clear results to your advertiser.

Consortium Thinking

In the Spring of 2007, 12 newspapers groups set out to change the paradigm of the newspaper business. The Yahoo Newspaper consortium of papers launched . Their vision was that Yahoo! would be Newspapers' Exclusive Paid Search Partner and Bring High-Quality Local Newspaper Content to its 150 MM Monthly U.S. Visitors*

The premise was Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) and a group of 12 leading U.S. newspaper companies would create a growing partnership combining the newspapers' unmatched local news and advertising reach with the leading technologies and audience of Yahoo!, the leading global Internet brand and one of the most trafficked Internet destinations worldwide.

The original 12 newspaper groups were:

In 2013, the group re-branded itself the “Local Media Consortium.”

The Local Media Consortium is a strategic partnership of more than 50 local media companies representing more than 1,000 local media publications across a multiple platforms. Oddly, Gannett & TRONC (formerly Tribune) are missing from the list.

So now that we understand and can appreciate a little history, I want to bring us back to today’s pressing challenges. Most newspaper companies (and some broadcast) are betting heavy that digital offerings will save the day. Remember our math … for each newspaper selling digital, there are 92 competitors attempting to earn the business.

Coming up next … Adoption by your Sales Staff!


BBill Cummings is a Sales & Marketing executive with extensive experience catalyzing rapid revenue growth while controlling multimillion-dollar program budgets. Sharp advertising and marketing acumen across national publications, niche markets, classified verticals (autos, real estate & employment), legal and private party segments. Collaborative communicator continually focused on building relationships and positioning high-performance teams for unprecedented success. He is available to speak at workshops or meetings; lead off-sites; conduct rate analysis; forecast where your next sale will come from; coach your leadership team (advertising, management, content) and is available as an expert witness or M&A subject matter expert. or (949) 293-0280.



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