With newspaper and magazine ad revenue on the decline, publishers are expanding their repertoire in order to make up the difference. They’re setting up deal sites, selling digital subscriptions and now they’re selling marketing services and not just to ad buyers.
Last week, Conde Nast, publisher of The New Yorker, GQ, Wired and dozens of other magazines, launched a new division called Ideactive. What they’re offering is a one-stop shop for all your digital marketing needs including mobile app development, websites and social media consultations. Companies who advertise with the publisher will get better rates, but they’ll take money from anyone who wants to hire them.
Poytner followed up on this idea and found several more publishers moving in this direction including the Grand Island Independent. If you’re a business in the area, you can pay this small, Nebraskan newspaper to set up a Facebook page and Twitter account for you.
Since launching in March 2010, the program now has about 40 clients that pay $99 a month for the service. That means the paper is collecting roughly $48,000 a year with very little overhead.
Not a bad side business. On one hand, it’s a wonder publishing companies didn’t start doing this sooner. They’ve always had ad departments dedicated to helping business show up in print, so why not extend that to the digital space? Maybe because they’re publishers and not web designers? And it’s one thing to help a current client build a Facebook page to go with their print ads, but when they get paid to do work for non-ad buyers, then you’re just another ad agency, aren’t you?
You do have to give credit to these old-school publishers who are fighting to stay alive in a digital world, but as Poytner’s expert points out, “Newspapers still will have to find ways to capture a larger share of Internet advertising, for advertising is where the money is.”
It seems to me that publishers would be better off finding ways to sell what they do best, which is create informative and entertaining content.