Knowledge Bridge

Global Intelligence for the Digital Transition

Product mindset: Content, advertising and services products

We’ve talked about a product mindset and the role a product manager plays but, of course, the key result of the mindset will be products. Here we’ll look at a few concrete examples of products. There are three main types:

  • Content products;
  • Advertising products; and
  • Services products.

This is just a start, though, and in future Digital Briefings and on the Knowledge Bridge website, we’ll return frequently to discuss products or types of products that you might want to consider developing and the revenue opportunities that they bring.

Content products

Most content products target very specific audiences. When I was the blogs editor at The Guardian in London, one of our more successful product launches was a food blog. We already had a following of food-lovers with our Sunday paper, The Observer, having a glossy monthly supplement dedicated to food with contributions from well known chefs and celebrities.

Creating a digital presence seemed an opportunity to support the supplement and also use the conversational nature of a blog to build community and loyalty. It was a huge success, and we launched with a sponsor, a high-end chocolate maker, and there was never any shortage of advertisers.

Launching a digital product like a blog can be a great way to build out niche, specialist content and build engagement and community around that content. With a huge range of digital content choices for readers and viewers, engagement is important because it helps build a loyal audience that return frequently and spend more time on your site.

We also created events that we could sell, such as cooking classes and chocolate tasting. It increased the sense of connection with readers to the site, and it also provided an opportunity to generate additional revenue either through sponsorship of the events or, as they grew in popularity, in sales of tickets or classes.

Back on the site, targeted content can be used to deliver more effective, targeted advertising. Our pitch to food and drinks advertisers was that the food blog was the place to reachReach1) unique users that visited the site over the course of the reporting period,…

Advertising products

As we’ve said, a product mindset is about delivering content to an audience and delivering that audience to advertisers. Now that you’ve created a content product that attracts a specific audience, you can then think of products that deliver that audience to advertisers.

Erik Tilleby, manager and head of development for Teknomedia in Sweden, said that they wanted to reach smaller companies which found it too expensive to advertise in one of parent company NTM’s nine newspapers. Their solution was to develop a multi-channel advertising product for small and medium companies, allowing these smaller companies with smaller budgets to use a mix of advertising across their print, broadcast and digital products. In Norrköping where Teknomedia is based, NTM has radio and TV stations as well as desktop and mobile websites. The new multi-channel advertising product might sell the small companies one big printed ad as well as targeted placement on the websites and possibly a TV ad. Payment might also be paid in installments rather than upfront.

The product is designed to meet the needs of advertisers with smaller budgets, so the rates will be lower to attract smaller businesses. NTM have found it an effective way to attract new customers that the group couldn’t previously reach, Tilleby said.

Services products

US digital media commentator Alan Mutter recently wrote about changes in local markets and some of the digital products that news groups should develop to take advantage as local audiences and advertisers shift to digital. Many of his insights apply to other markets.

Mutter quoted research by Borrell Associates that looked at the advertising purchasing plans of small and medium local businesses. As Mutter noted, a growing percentage of local businesses are focused on developing direct digital relationships with their customers, such as upgrading their websites, investing in social media marketing and email campaigns.

Most newspapers and news organisations don’t really offer services to meet these needs. Smart magazines and newspapers are increasingly offering marketing solutions that help their advertisers with digital advertising beyond simply offering them ads on their own sites.

There is also an opportunity for TV stations to help advertisers produce video advertising not only for broadcast but also for online ad placement.

In a follow up piece, Mutter offered up a “digital product plan” for local news organisations with ideas for a range of new services to meet the needs of local advertisers in the 21st Century.

  • For those local businesses looking to create or update their website, local publishing partners could offer website design and hosting.
  • Analysing the performance of your website or your social media presence is a complex task, and this could be another service that the local news organisation provides for local businesses.
  • The marketing teams of local publishers could also offer social and search marketing services to local businesses.

This is just a start, and as we said, the key step in this process will be to assess your local market to find out where the greatest opportunity lies. It’s important to remember not to over-extend yourself and do too much – choose wisely, based on the best information you have, and focus on a few things and do them well. There are many things you can do, but the first step in the process is determining what your customers need.

Article by Kevin Anderson

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