The Separation of Church and State is Killing Local Newspapers. Advertorial Content Marketing is the Solution

I read a great article on PandoDaily about how the separation of church and state (that is “journalism” and “advertising”) is killing local publishers. The author, Bryan Goldberg, highlights the importance of understanding the economics of the news room, tying cost of content production to page views and brand quality.  The refusal for journalists to understand the economics of the business they are in is at best naive and at worst self-defeating.

That said, increasingly the culture of economic understanding is being instilled in newsrooms across America.   I see it more and more with refined metrics and tracking, increased onus on journalists to build social media followings as syndication outlets for content and the adoption of contributors a la Huffington Post and Business Insider to create cheap, SEO-able content.   That’s a start.

However, where the article falls short is that the assumed monetization product is entirely tied to page views.  It’s a narrow, advertising-only view.  The reality is there are many other ways local publishers can monetize their assets, and we are beginning to see local publishers offer digital agency services for local businesses.   However, they are doing it in a way that is not strategic – it does not leverage their brand, content, audience and SEO.   How does a newspaper offering Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing (SEM) do anything for it’s core business?  How can a newspaper provide differentiated SEM services?  I can’t figure it out.

There is a better way.  Advertorial is a natural fit that defies the traditional separation of church and state, but can be done in a way that does not mislead the reader.  In fact, readers absolutely want this content = deals, bargains, events, sales, announcements from the local businesses they frequent and love.  Here’s a GREAT article outlining the key idea about the need for moving away from ads to advertorial. With teams of writers that are traditionally cost centers, it is also an opportunity to turn internal talent from a cost center (a marketing expense if you will) into a profit center.

We think that advertorial is key as the world continues to move from advertising to content marketing.  Local newspapers have the opportunity to plug into the core of it while still providing complimentary capabilities around that content that’s additive, including SEO, email marketing, social media management and more.   We put our local content marketing solution at the heart of a local publisher’s monetization efforts, enabling them to defy CPMs, create sustainable and exponentially growing revenue streams all while creating more valuable content for their readers.

We think there is a future for local publishers in breaking church and state and finding better solutions than traditional advertising.  What do you think?