Friday, June 2, 2023 is the next day.
Guy Tasaka is the editor and publisher.
The golden age of local media was Local Media 1.0, which ran from 2005 to 2005. High-quality content was offered to audiences who, in turn, provided steadfast loyalty and a marketplace for local sellers.
Changes were brought by the transition into Local Media 2.0 Digital scale was prioritized by media companies. Page views were the key metric. The focus was on generating search traffic, creating social posts and using third-party distribution to meet targets. The goal was to drive more CPM-based display ads.
The once-loyal audience was replaced by single-page engagement audiences. The industry relied on third-party software for content discovery. Meta pivoted from news publishers to the creator community further marginalizing traditional news outlets.
The digital scale game has failed in the local area. Evidence of its failure can be seen at the national and international levels, with large digital publishers announcing cutbacks and layoffs. Private equity companies realized the limitations of the digital media game and were hesitant to back them.
Tech giants have been blamed for the industry's challenges. One could argue that it is the same fault. The creation of a news website used to be complicated and expensive. The democratization of publishing enabled everyone to become a publisher, flooding the market and driving down CPMs.
Digital subscriptions, paid content, reader revenue and membership models all changed during the second half of Local Media 2.0 The promise of these models was not enough to offset the decline in print subscriptions. The New York Times has 9 million subscribers.
Local media 3.0 is new.
Local Media 3.0 has been understood by the previous eras and can now be introduced. The new era of local media has been in the making for a decade and is ready to disrupt the industry with new rules.
There are signals and parameters.
In Local Media 3.0, the media landscape is very different. Newspapers, television and radio are no longer protected by FCC licenses due to the fact that there are no barriers to entry. More competition is allowed by over-the-top distribution or intellectual property.
Traditional boundaries in the media industry are disappearing as a result of these changes. A more diverse and connected media landscape will result from different media types crossing these boundaries.
Local media will not be able to support the current number of newsrooms due to economic realities. Sinclair replaced the local news markets with national and regional news.
The audience strategy has a plan.
Local Media 3.0 focuses on serving small, loyal audiences with local news and information. Engagement metrics should be similar to your app and digital edition data.
It's important to own your audience relationship. You need to collect registration data and information from your audience. Information is the new currency and media companies need to understand that.
Every user should be addressable for monetization if they use engagement data to build audience segments. Customer data is used to derive the value of major companies. News media companies can use this wealth of data to better serve their audiences.
There is a content strategy.
There is a need for a shift in strategy. Media companies should focus on local news and data on the web instead of covering everything. Time is limited and content is plentiful. The value of curation is usually greater than the original content.
Local business owners are engaging with us.
Most local media companies don't engage with a lot of local businesses. Publishers used to target the largest companies with the most significant ad budgets. The success metric in 3.0 shifts to owning as many local business relationships as possible and controlling their entire marketing budget. Local media companies need to help local businesses navigate the entire customer journey and manage their marketing budgets across all platforms.
There is a Monetization Strategy.
It is important for media companies to sell omnichannel. It is possible for media companies to own an advertiser's entire marketing spend. The success of a media company used to be limited by its own inventory. Non-O&O revenue could dwarf traditional O&O revenue if local business relationships are well managed.
There is a future of technology in local media.
It is important to understand that the technology stack will undergo significant changes in Local Media 3.0.
Media companies need to prepare for these changes by crafting a new tech stack. omnichannel order management systems, self-service ad platforms, customer relationship management, customer data platforms, automation tools, and generative artificial intelligence are some of the technology tools that will play important roles. All workflows need to be re-architected for the future.
The publishing and selling of goods will become the norm, and media companies need to reduce the amount of time they spend in the middle of the process. To thrive in the new era, media companies need to invest more in data technology and staff.
Is Local Media 3.0 the way to get back to the success of Local Media 1.0? It will only be time that tells. This shift in strategy has both immense potential and significant risk. Maintaining the status quo may be the riskiest move.
Guy Tasaka has 35 years of experience in leading change in the industry. He has worked with renowned organizations such as Macworld Magazine, Ziff-Davis and The New York Times. Guy, the former chief digital officer at Calkins Media, was named the Local Media Association's innovation of the year for his work in advance of OTT and digital video platforms. He is the founder and managing partner of Tasaka Digital, a company that helps media and technology companies navigate business transformation. The guy can be reached at the website.