Gee, I thought you were in the local advertising business?

Much has been made of the continuing, and seemingly inexorable, decline of the daily newspaper business. Most of these companies have been trying to figure out how to make money through delivery of their product over the internet. Turns out it’s hard to get folks to pay for something they can readily get for free.

So despite many years–and likely lots of money spent on consultants–your typical newspaper has lost consumer relevance and destroyed considerable shareholder value.

Part of the problem here is one of perspective. Sure, your newspaper is in the business of delivering news. But they are also in the business of delivering (primarily) local, promotional advertising to consumers.

With all the doom and gloom surrounding the newspaper business, and its advertising model, you might assume there was nothing of interest for consumers and no way to make money.

Tell that to Groupon or LivingSocial.

The rapidly growing daily deals segment is dominated by companies that started with zero existing customer data and no relationships with local merchants. Yet, they’ve totally trumped the newspapers who already possessed those critical assets–not to mention a burning need to develop new sources of profits.

Time and time again, industry incumbents miss the next big idea because they focus on squeezing value out of their old business model, rather than understanding how customer value is being created in new and remarkable ways.

So where’s your blind side?


One thought on “Gee, I thought you were in the local advertising business?

  1. The newspapers never saw it coming. After Monster and then Craigslist took out huge swaths of their advertising revenue, they collapsed in on themselves, working hard to replicate their model online, without thinking through what their main asset was: inertia.

    A company that is used to spending money with the newspaper will continue to spend money with the newspaper.

    Part of the problem is they see themselves as journalists, and not as bait for advertising. Ad sales departments could have easily worked with outside tech firms to sell space as an upgrade to the print edition, but they saw that as competition.

    Instead, they let others come along and take the attention of their customers off of the traditional ad placement onto new platforms.

    The Yellow Pages did the same thing. In this case, the blind spot was ego. Ad sales pay for the content. Sadly, that explains why the newspapers are so thin these days.

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