The Guardian reported: “Google is ramping up its efforts to make money from its controversial Google News service by striking deals with eight European news agencies, and launching a contextual ad service to display adverts around their stories.”
“The contextual ads will also run alongside content from existing Google partners AFP, UK Press Association, AP and Canada Press,” it also reported.
It reminded me of a chat I had with senior members of the digital team at the UK’s Press Association (PA) in early February, but never published. Now seems a good time to share that information. Colin Ramsay is head of the PA digital sales team and Chris Condron is the head of digital strategy at the PA.
They told me that selling commercial video with advertising is an increasingly important venture for the agency.
“One of the key areas is that we need to move our position up the chain a bit,” Ramsay said. “Rather than be a news feed supplier, we want to fully understand what our service can do for our customers and how we can link that commercially,” he said.
“One of the things we really want to do is develop and leverage strong relationships with traditional media, and also expand in digital marketplace. There are lots of new and emerging customers for us to have dialogue with,” Ramsay said.
The Press Association can offer content in new ways, on new platforms, he explained, adding that video is ‘a key area’.
“I think we’ve got a lot of opportunities around commercial video,” he said, which could include developing relationships with new advertisers. Blue chip companies are particularly important as potential advertising clients, he said.
More and more video ‘is a key part’ of PA’s provision, which could be integrated with different editorial packages, Ramsay said, adding that there is now less emphasis on text provision.
Different types of video and advertising provision means new as well as existing partnerships, he said.
“We’re in the process of analysing the commercial market,” he said. “For first time we’re looking at the advertising market and where is developing the most revenue.”
“What we want to be able to do is develop zones or microsites which allow our customers to attract new audiences and dervive new revenue streams and which we can share in.”
“It’s going to be a very exciting year for PA, in how it develops and competes – we then become an extra resource for our customers,” Ramsay told me.
Head of digital strategy, Chris Condron, addressed editorial issues: “One of the key things is the scale,” he said. “PA is 140 years old – the reason it was set up in first place is because it made economic sense for each newspaper not to send people to same place,” he explained, as background.
While ‘times are tough,’ he said that one of the ways PA is ‘looking to be even more helpful, or relevant’ is to find strategies the company ‘can use straight away’.
For example, provision of a news channel for Virgin Media is a different kind of service, with different kinds of advertising opportunities. “The core values remain, but it [approach] is a lot more flexible,” Condron said.
It’s not just commercial companies they want to supply video to: “The newspaper companies have showed interest in further video provision, and with the BBC not going into local video, newspapers are delivering their own video,” he said.
That’s an example of where the barriers between broadcasters and newspapers are breaking down, he illustrated.
“They’re [newspapers] really focused on where the users are, and what the users want and it’s our job to help them do that.
“I think it’s fair to say it’s tough times – we’re focused on being as helpful and useful to our core customers as we were in the past,” Condron added.