Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 21 seconds

Legacy Publishers Ramp Up Marketing Efforts

The newest formidable firms in the highly competitive marketing agency business may be the same companies that throw newspapers on your front porch.

After losing subscription and advertising revenues for years to digital publishers, legacy media companies that have managed to stay afloat are aggressively building their marketing services by acquiring businesses or forming partnerships.

The New York Times, Condé Nast, Hearst Newspapers, The Gannett Co., Inc., The McClatchy Company, and tronc, Inc. are just a few examples of publishers that have changed their business models by offering digital marketing services rather than just advertising.

In an effort to compete with Facebook, Google, and traditional publishers, Condé Nast has enhanced its services by providing real time analysis of subscribers’ activities, reports Media Post.

The publisher has 125 million digital and video subscribers, 174 million social media relationships, and 50 million print customers across 22 brands. Condé Nast data includes subscriptions, emails, surveys, data from social media and debit and credit-card information.

The company maintains that it analyzes data in real time for pitching targeted advertising rather than process data overnight and then distribute content the following day, which is a common practice among publishers. In addition to developing capabilities internally, the company has acquired the data company Citizen Net. Conde Nast says it now has over 800 million profiles and built specialized audience sets.

Hearst Newspapers, which has 24 dailies and 64 weeklies reaching more than 44 million visitors in the U.S., is also seeking new ways to improve its advertising services. The company has recently tapped SolidOpinion’s pay-per-article service, reports Globe News Wire.

The SolidOpinion platform creates new, high-performance inventory that is leveraged for contextual advertising messages by brands. The technology allows brands to pitch targeted messages that appear above news article headlines. By providing highly targeted messages, SolidOpinion maintains that it increases reader engagement.

Gannett Co., which publishes USA Today, is also expanding its services. It announced last month that it is acquiring WordStream, Inc. for $130 million, reports CIO Bulletin.

WordStream provides software as a service (SaaS) solutions that local and regional businesses, including agencies, use to deliver targeted digital marketing campaigns. WordSmith will supplement Gannett’s existing digital marketing services, which are offered with ReachLocal and SweetIQ.

Publishers are also teaming up to strengthen their marketing offering. New York Media, PopSugar and Rolling Stone, for example, have created Concert, which is a digital advertising marketplace operated by Vox Media and Comcast’s NBCUniversal, reports Marketing Dive.

Concert maintains that it reaches 122 million unduplicated unique visitors on 40 websites in an effort to compete with Facebook and Google.

In another example, Gannett, the McClatchy Company, tronc, Inc. and Hearst have teamed up to create Nucleus Marketing Solutions, which is a national advertising network that seeks to assist advertisers with reaching a wider audience, reports Nasdaq.

In a bid to compete with Facebook and Google, publishers have maintained that their advertising services are highly transparent and can help brands avoid reputational risk which can happen when promotional materials appear alongside inappropriate content. The Nucleus website, is no exception. It claims that scale and accountability aren’t mutually exclusive. It further claims that its platform reaches 158 million unique viewers and displays more than 180 million video advertisements a month.

Legacy publishers are also promoting that their publications, which can cover local news, can help advertisers target their message to geographic areas. In other instances, publishers such as Condé Nast, which is well known for its travel publications, can emphasize that their publications can target viewers based on specific interests.

Yet, like any publication, including modern digital-only sites, the quality of news or other forms of content will continue to be essential for achieving success with advertisers. In that regard, traditional publishers with seasoned writers may have an upper hand. 

Perception among younger individuals is a potential disadvantage. In a recent survey by Matrix, less than 20% of Americans have said they have been excited by videos from Condé Nast, CNN, and BBC, reports The Drum.

In the same survey, Google and Hulu generated excitement from 57% and 32%, respectively, of viewers.

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