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#citylocal: Hyperlocal ad sales and the ‘age of participation’

Community participation is key to selling ads around local and hyperlocal content, Rick Waghorn told the audience at today’s Sustaining Local Journalism conference.

Waghorn, who founded local ad sales platform Addiply, cited the example of Howard Owens, publisher of New York hyperlocal site the Batavian.

Owens, he said, was a “hyperlocal superman” for turning a profit from ads on his site. The reason for Owens’ success? P2P. That’s “person-to-person”. Waghorn praised Owen for participating in the community that he covers, knowing the people, and knocking on doors to get ads.

It’s P2P that will make hyperlocal ad sales profitable, said Waghorn, not algorithms.

Borrowing a term from Emily Bell, he said that we are in “the age of participation”.

Editorial is participative and local, why shouldn’t advertising be?

But Owens’ is a rare case, said Waghorn, stressing that hyperlocal publishers in the UK need to get more comfortable with participating in the community for ad sales.

We can’t all be Howard Owens. You look around the hyperlocal scene in the UK and the art of selling is lost on most people. Is is a different, different trade craft to finding a story.

It strikes me as odd that most people would be more comfortable doing a death knock than going into a local pizza parlour and asking for a 10 quid ad. Why? That seems odd to me. I know what I’d rather do.

Waghorn’s said his own ad platform, Addiply, could help publishers reach out to their communities to make ad sales.

It’s a bottom-up ad solution that, in our tiny, tiny way goes into battle with the adsenses and all the big betworks.

And bottom up solutions are what works, he said, “the world is turning upside down”. Citing Howard Owens again, Waghorn claimed that the door-to-door salesman is the missing link for hyperlocal ad sales. He contrased Owens’ approach with that of the big hyperlocal networks like AOL’s Patch.

I’m not Patch, descending down to you from on high, I am the one knocking on your door. Knocking on your door seven or eight times before you give me an ad.

Waghorn’s message? Journalists will knock on doors to ask about deaths, and will knock on doors looking for stories, and if they want to make hyperlocal pay they will have to start thinking about ad sales the same way.

That message was echoed by Will Perrin of Talk About Local, who called the Guardian’s sales approach to advertising on its recently-closed Guardian local sites “very odd”.

If you want to sell ads around local content you have to have a team there on the ground.

Tweets tagged with the #citylocal hashtag can be seen in this Chirpstory.

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‘Why Journalism Matters’ by Alan Rusbridger (@arusbridger): the video

July 24th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Events, Journalism

Journalism.co.uk coverage of ‘Why Journalism Matters’ by Guardian News&Media editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger at the British Academy on Wednesday evening:

Also worth a read:

You can now watch the speech for yourself, thanks to the Media Standards Trust (@newsmatters). Part one below, and the rest to follow on the organisation’s YouTube channel.

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Newsinnovation London: Audio from the event

July 15th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Events

Journalism.co.uk had a great day at Friday’s inaugural Newsinnovation event hosted by the Media Standards Trust (MST).

As well as discussing the MST’s plans with the Associated Press for a new industry standard for story metadata, sessions covered the use of data for newsgathering and storytelling, hyperlocal publishing and communities and open source technology.

Have a read of Adam Tinworth’s posts on the event; watch Kevin Anderson’s video vox pops on the future of news; and check out Martin Belam’s handy list of links that were circulating during the sessions.

Below is some rough and ready audio from a few of the talks from the event:

The Guardian’s Simon Willison on its MPs’ expenses crowdsourcing experiment

Will Perrin on ‘hyperlocal’ and Talk About Local

My Football Writer’s Rick Waghorn on local online advertising system Addiply

Toby Moores and Reuters’ Mark Jones on social media, news and politics

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#followjourn: A new service from Journalism.co.uk

June 24th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Recommended journalists

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’ll now start recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

Here’s our first one:

#FollowJourn: Rick Waghorn

Who? New media entrepreneur and football journalist

What? He’s behind MyFootballWriter, the forthcoming My Local Writer and Addiply.

Where? @mrrickwaghorn/OutWithABang

Contact?info [at] myfootballwriter.com

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Local media: A stimulating discussion? Your ideas needed

June 15th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism

Last week the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) sent an eight-point plan to new culture secretary Ben Bradshaw as an economic stimulus package for the UK’s local media.

In summary:

  1. Reform of cross-media ownership rules with a strengthened public interest test;
  2. Hard and fast commitment to ring-fence licence fee funding for the BBC;
  3. A levy introduced on commercial operators who benefit from quality public service content – including local news – but do not contribute to its production;
  4. Tax breaks for local media who meet clearly defined public purposes;
  5. Tax credits for individuals who buy quality media;
  6. Direct support to help establish new genuinely local media organisations;
  7. Strategic use of central and local government advertising;
  8. Support for training opportunities that open access to journalism

The proposals come ahead of the long-awaited Digital Britain report, part of which will make new suggestions for local media ownership models and provision.

Both, of course, come on top of a select committee inquiry into local media, countless pontifications from media commentators (ourselves included) and lobbying by industry groups of Bradshaw’s predecessor Andy Burnham.

Reactions to the NUJ’s suggestions from a range of industry representatives are featured below – Journalism.co.uk wanted to gauge the feeling on the ground, so to speak (feel free to leave more comments below or email laura at journalism.co.uk).

Having spoken to Society of Editors executive director Bob Satchwell as part of this process, one thing is clear: new ideas are needed to support newsgathering at a local level, whatever shape or platform it takes.

But with the current level of pressure on existing local news providers, it is short-term answers that are needed, says Satchwell:

“While we’re waiting to create new models to deal with new media landscape the existing reality may be so seriously damaged that it may be too late to apply those complex solutions.”

Here are some reactions to the NUJ’s proposals – what’s the next step?

Firstly starting with a comment left on our original post by James Goffin on levies for aggregators:
Presumably ‘A levy introduced on commercial operators who benefit from quality public service content – including local news – but do not contribute to its production’ is aimed at people like Google, but why leave it there – and why only in one direction?

If this is genuinely aimed at supporting local media (and not just shoring up the BBC, which tends to be the NUJ line nationally) then why shouldn’t the corporation be charged when it ‘benefits’ from stories it has followed up from the local press? (Or blogs for that matter).

And much as I enjoy the idea of claiming back my Private Eye subs against tax, I can see it being as effective in stimulating the economy as the VAT cut.

Give them some credit for at least trying; pity most of it is nonsense.

Tom Calver, a communications officer for Blackburn with Darwen County Council, on defining ‘quality’ and a plan for mutually owned local newspapers:
Point 7 calls for us to consider ‘quality journalism’ when we place ads, which puts those of us in council comms in the unenviable position of having to decide what constitutes ‘quality’. Does the NUJ really think we should be doing that? In any case, there is only one local paper here, so I don’t have any choice in which title to use anyway.

What guarantee is there that ad spend would really support quality journalism, rather than just boosting profits while the newsroom is still run down?

I’m also slightly confused as to what’s meant by “identifying appropriate targets”. Generally speaking, my targets are groups of local people. If a local paper is a good way to reach them, I’ll use it. If it’s not, then I’d be wasting taxpayers money, and failing to get the message to the right people. So is the suggestion that only people who read the local paper are appropriate targets for any campaign?

Or is the suggestion that ‘appropriate targets’ are ‘deserving’ newspapers which should be supported in some sort of charitable way? I’d understand that if local papers were not-for-profit with a clear commitment to good journalism and informing local people, but they’re owned by large groups who will look after the bottom line long before they look after quality journalism.

The NUJ just has not gone far enough. It is asking for more money to be chucked at the same failing model, albeit with some loose guarantees about quality from the same groups that have cut back in newsrooms. That might slow the decline, but it won’t turn things around.

How about mutual ownership for local papers? Newspaper staff, local people and those who support quality journalism could all be members. A constitution could guarantee day to day editorial independence, but the editor would answer to a board elected from the membership, which would set parameters for coverage, monitor quality and ensure investment in training.

That sort of organisation could then benefit from tax breaks and have access to funds supporting community development. With a clear duty to improve local coverage, it would probably get back some of the lost readers (and so make itself a more appealing advertising channel for public services!).

Rick Waghorn, ex-regional newspaper journalist and founder of MyFootballWriter.com on practical problems:
I think it’s all very well intentioned, but as ever the devil will be in the detail and the ‘how’ any of this is likely to work…

Or, indeed, who is going to have the political will/leverage to ensure any of this is adhered to.

Tax credits? Who adjudicates on the ‘quality’ assessment panel?

Direct support for ‘genuinely’ local media organisations? How? When? Via whom? Ofcom?

Strategic use of local and central government advertising is spot on – but that can start happening now. But again who is charged with making the ‘assessment’ that it is ‘quality’ journalism?

With Tom Watson out of government, Ben Bradshaw presumably given 10 days to master his new ‘brief’ before the publication of Digital Britain, I don’t see anyone with the drive or the will to oversee this – not whilst the Brown government is so fatally weakened.

Alas, I fear it’s going to be every man, woman and under-fire journalist for themselves for the foreseeable future – and the only people that are ever going to come to our rescue are ourselves.

Former editorial director for a UK regional newspaper group on media ownership problems:
My own concerns would be about possible loss of independence that could come with subsidy.

The cut backs in the industry are already leaving gaps. It might be better to see who and what steps in to fill the vacuum. [More emphasis on new media models - Ed]

On cross media ownership, take a look at Guardian Media in Manchester where it has already happened with TV, radio, web and newspapers under one roof. It has not been a success.

Comment from Dan Mason, director of Dan Mason Associates and former newspaper group managing editor, on journalism enterprise:

Full marks to the NUJ for keeping the ball rolling after the departure of Andy Burnham. I’m delighted to see the appalling lack of support for media innovation and enterprise included (this would top my list), as well as the need to focus on better media training.

My big concern is that trying to define something as subjective as ‘quality journalism’ as a cornerstone of any plan renders it impotent from the start, especially when the suggested criteria includes demands on media companies that are impossible to regulate, like maintaining paginations.

If this keeps the dialogue going and pressure on this government to act, great. But, if Lord Sugar has anything to say about it, ministers will need to focus on what can be achieved, by when, for what cost.

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Digital editors on Twitter – a list for networking and problem-solving

Since I started using Twitter I’ve always been amazed (and grateful) at how quickly calls for technological help and assistance with ideas and projects are answered. It’s one of the main reasons I’m a fan of Twitter.

There are plenty of media/journalist Twitter databases out there, but below are the beginnings of a list of digital editors on Twitter.

What do I mean by digital editor? In this instance, a journalist working primarily online, on web projects or co-ordinating multimedia output. The web editor of a newspaper site or magazine site, for example. It’s in no particular order, except for being divided by ‘traditional’ industry sectors at the moment, but if this isn’t useful, just let us know – would be great to get more international representatives too.

But the criteria for inclusion on the list are intentionally loose – this is aimed at networking, problem-solving and idea sharing between journalists working in the same space and similar roles. (Feel free to nominate any additions or drop us a tweet @journalismnews)

UPDATE April 16please read blog post two on how to message the group via Twitter

Newspapers

Alison Gow (@alisongow) – executive editor, digital, Liverpool Daily Post & Liverpool Echo

Kevin Matthews (@kmatt) – head of web and data, Liverpool Daily Post

Neil MacDonald (@xxnapoleonsolo) – deputy head of web and data, Liverpool Daily Post

Jo Wadsworth (@jowadsworth) – web editor, Brighton Argus

Tom Pegg (@tomatthechad) – digital content manager, Mansfield Chad

James Goffin (@jamesgoffin) – regional web producer, Archant

Sarah Booker (@sarah_booker) – web editor, Worthing Herald

Gustav Svensson (@gustavsvensson) – web editor, entertainment and arts, Sydsvenskan.se

Stephen Emerson (@stephen_emerson) – deputy online editor, Scotsman.com

Sam Shepherd (@SamShepherd) – online journalist, Bournemouth Daily Echo

Joanna Geary (@timesjoanna) – web development editor, business, Times Online

Sarah Hartley (@foodiesarah) – head of online editorial, MEN Media

Iain Hepburn (@iainmhepburn) – online editor, DailyRecord.co.uk

Lucia Adams (@luciatimes) – web development editor, Times Online

Carmen Boles (@carmenb) – online news editor, Gazette.com

Marcus Warren (@MarcusWa) – editor, Telegraph.co.uk

Dan Owen (@danowen) – executive editor online, Trinity Mirror

Steve Nicholls (@steve_nicholls) – multimedia editor, Birmingham Post

Anna Jeys (@ajeys) – multimedia editor, Birmingham Mail

Steve Wollaston (@stevewollaston) – multimedia editor, BPM Media and Sunday Mercury

Julie Martin (@jules_27) – Teesside Evening Gazette

Helen Dalby (@helendalby) – regional multimedia manager, NCJ Media

Nick Turner (@nickincumbria) – head of digital content, CN Group

Christian Dunn (@christiandunn) – digital news editor, NWN Media

Hugh Dixon (@hugh_d) – web editor and production editor, thisisbath/Bath Chronicle

Paul Cockerton (@paulcockerton) – web editor, Lancashire Telegraph

Dan Owens (@hornetdan1979) – deputy news editor, Northampton Chronicle and Echo

Dan Kerins (@dankerins) – web journalist, Southern Daily Echo

Broadcast

Marsha Graham (@marshagoldcoast) – multimedia manager for 102.9FM Hot Tomato, Australia

Rob Winder (@robwinder) – news editor, Al Jazeera website, Washington DC

Tom Thorogood (@TomThorogood) – digital news editor, MTV

Magazines

Martin Stabe (@martinstabe) – online editor, Retail Week

Victoria Thompson (@VicThompson) – assistant online editor, Nursing Times

Neil Durham (@NeilDurham) – deputy editor, GP and Independent Nurse

John Robinson (@PulseToday) – digital content manager, Pulse Today

Peter Houston (@p_houston) – editorial director for Advanstar Communications, Europe

Alex Smith (@alexsmith68) – web editor, Building.co.uk

Keira Daley (@daleyrant) – web editor, Australian print magazine

Lara McNamee (@lovelylara33) – assistant intelligence editor, ICIS

Gabriel Fleming (@gabefleming) – online editor, Nursing Times

Janie Stamford (@janiestamford) – contract catering editor, Caterer & Hotelkeeper

Robin Latchem (@lgcplus) – online editor, Local Government Chronicle

Keely Stocker (@keelystocker) – digital content manager, Drapers Online

Scott Matthewman (@scottm) – assistant manager, The Stage

Specialist website

Michael Hubbard (@michaelomh) – founder and music editor, MusicOmh

Krystal Sim (@krystalsim) – web editor for sustainability magazine BSD – bsdlive.co.uk

Arun Marsh (@ArunMarsh) – content producer/editor, Local Gov

Rick Waghorn (@MrRickWaghorn) – publisher, MyFootbalWriter

Emma Waddingham (@emmawad) online editor, Legal-Medical.co.uk

Michael McCarthy (@HealthGuide) online editor, LocalHealthGuide

Steve Gooding (@rmtimestech)- Romney Marsh Times

Manoj Solanki (@ManojSolanki) – SeekBroadband.com

Graham Holliday (@noodlepie) – digital editor, Frontline Club

Craig McGinty (@craigmcginty) – publisher, ThisFrenchLife

Mark Crail (@markcrail) – managing editor, XpertHR

Freelance

Adam Oxford (@adamoxford)

Rachel Colling (@rachcolling)

Ashanti Omkar (@ashantiomkar)

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OutWithABang: Rick Waghorn reflects on his old newspaper job as it ‘goes down the Newsquest toilet’

December 18th, 2008 | Comments Off | Posted by in Editors' pick, Job losses, Jobs, Newspapers

“I was the Gazette’s one-man sports department from the Saturday through to the Wednesday when the editions rolled off that newly-bent, L-shaped press to be delivered to the three corners of Wiltshire on the Thursday,” writes Waghorn. Now, the job is dead. He takes a look at ‘a sign of the times’.

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Goodbye with a bang – another football site to go

September 4th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

Echoing yesterday’s news that Whoateallthepies.tv has struggled to get advertising, founder of outwithabang.com and myfootballwriter.com, Rick Waghorn, reports that they have decided to give up on their Colchester United site.

Waghorn feels that it would be ‘a bit rich’ if he didn’t mention their own ‘death in the family’, given that they have charted the rise and impending falls of many media organisations.

He writes, “[I]t’s not an ex-site. That’s wrong; it’s just having a rest, a breather. But it has closed down. For now…Why? Well, the reasons are many and varied, but mostly financial.”

Waghorn praises his site’s editorial strength but he says that their ‘local advertising network never caught up; never made it that far.’

In March, Journalism.co.uk reported that while Waghorn’s Norwich United site attracted 33,000 unique hits in January 2008 alone, Waghorn emphasised that the important thing was to create a ‘melting pot’ of revenue from Google, local advertisers, subscribers and content syndication.

In January Waghorn told Journalism.co.uk about his hopes
for myfootballwriter.com to expand into the US with proposals for sites covering American sports teams.

Journalism.co.uk’s other blogs about Rick Waghorn can be read here.

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JEEcamp: online revenue models – the Waghorn way

March 14th, 2008 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

Rick Waghorn, founder of myfootballwriter.com and keynote speaker at today’s JEEcamp conference, has said his Norwich FC site attracted 33,000 unique visitors in January.

However, Waghorn said the more interesting figures are 436 – the average number of seconds spent on the site by a user, and 3.5 – the average number of visits a month.

Discussing the local contextual advertising system Addiply which he has developed, Waghorn said local newspapers should now be viewing their journalists’ contact books as list of potential advertisers.

According to Waghorn it’s about creating a ‘melting pot’ of revenue from Google, local advertisers, subscribers and content syndication.

Relying on one revenue stream isn’t enough: 400,000 pages impressions over three months to MFW generated a paltry $180. Google is not the piece of advertising kit needed by local sites, Waghorn said.

News sites should aim to gear their content and advertising so it can be adapted and pushed through local, national and global channels, Waghorn advised. As an example, the site has this week signed an ad deal with the British Army, who were keen to tap into the football fan demographic.

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Rise in web traffic for Myfootballwriter.com

February 11th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Online Journalism

Commenting on Roy Greenslade’s analysis of Newsquest’s advertising decline, myfootballwriter.com‘s Rick Waghorn has indicated some traffic success for MFW’s Ipswich site.

According to Waghorn, unique users to the site increased from 5,500 in December last year to 22,000 by January.

In terms of advertising, Waghorn added, the number of banner, button and sky ads delivered by the site has increased ’13-fold’ year-on-year to 1.3 million last month.

“We may still have a long way to go in getting our commercial model to catch up with the editorial one, but having just witnessed our new Ipswich Town site quadruple in uniques in a month… at least I’m not going quietly into the night,” he writes.

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