There’s nothing virtual about Driving Digital Revenue’s program.
Instead, the agenda for the two-day conference at the offices of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution centers not on the potential revenue opportunities in the digital space—but actual, real-life achievements in platforms ranging from video to agency services and mobile to sales strategies that are working for old school reps.
Consider, for instance, the Wednesday, Jan. 25, session on data that will be led by Arvid Tchivzhel, director of Mather Economics LLC and Nikhil Hunshikatti, the vice president, marketing for Dispatch Media Group, publisher of 26 newspapers including its flagship The Columbus Dispatch.
Big Data discussions can easily become entirely academic, speculating on the power of information newspapers may not know they are even generating—but never specifying what to do with the data. This Driving Digital Revenue session, on the other hand, will focus on strategies to grow revenue from both subscriptions and advertising that publishers large and small are employing right now to benefit from data collection.
Similarly, when Brad Boggs, the senior director of interactive sales for Informed Interactive and The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., leads a session on native advertising, there’ll be no crystal ball gazing about what sponsored content could do for a paper. What Boggs will talk about is exactly what the newspaper has done to generate $300,000 in revenue from native this year—and why the paper is budgeting for a 20% increase in revenue in 2017.
Take another hot topic that many newspapers are wrestling with: setting up a digital marketing services agency or operation. At Driving Digital Revenue, the opening session on Thursday, Jan. 26, lays out the conference’s real-life theme in its very title, A Comprehensive Session On The Different Approaches To Digital Marketing Services.
Drawing from their experiences, Kiesha Doss of WEHCO Digital Media and Micah Beatty of Cox Media Group, will walk attendees through the pros and cons of offering these services to advertisers, the best products to focus time and efforts on, the best return on investment, the different ways to sell, and the benefits to different business models such as in-house or white-label operations.
In assembling the Driving Digital Revenue program, co-sponsors Inland and the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association started from the fact that digital revenue is out there to be captured by newspapers. That obvious fact was confirmed in early November when the Interactive Advertising Bureau reported that digital advertising revenues in the U.S. totaled $32.7 billion in the first half of 2016—up 19% from the same period in 2015.
Driving Digital Revenue’s program looks at successful experiences in numerous platforms in the digital space. For example, Shannon Kinney, the founder and client success officer for Dream Local Digital, will present on such social media platforms as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn, and provide case studies of how sales teams at media organizations have wielded those platforms to grow revenue.
Neither is legacy media forgotten in the conference program. Sales guru Mike Blinder will discuss turnkey ways newspapers are blending digital marketing service offering with day-to-day print options—and attracting new advertisers in print as well as digital.
The final session of the conference, in fact, is entirely devoted to the experience of a three-day-a-week, 12,000-circulation paper in Georgia that in the last two years has implemented a transformation in its products, culture and community partnerships. The successes at the Forsyth County News includes a video initiative that is making money and deepening its engagement with the community.