Leveraging Directories for Publishers

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Directories are one of the oldest and most common print resources in existence. They are also diverse, covering everything from Yellowbook to tourist guides, but some of the most successful registries are those owned and managed by local magazines and newspapers. That said, there are not as many publishers capitalizing on directories as there should be.

The value of local directories

Local publications thrive by being the “local source of information” for their audience. The more information publishers provide, and the more versatile that information, the more footholds a publisher has in their local community. Directories are a great way to provide added value and promote the actual community, helping establish that greater foothold without compromising or straying from the content a publisher would already be producing. Not to mention, directories provide a chance for profits too.

During a crisis, directories take on an entirely different value, but one equally as important. People need clear and concise information during difficult times to help them make informed, rational decisions. Directories meet that need perfectly. Publishers can do away with the profit model of the directory temporarily, and update the directory to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information to better serve their audiences in that time of need. This ties back into the idea of supporting the community as the “local source of information,” which in turn causes the community to rally behind the publication and help them push through their own difficult times. Baltimore Magazine’s COVID-19 roundup is a great example of putting this into action.

How to leverage a directory

Producing a local directory takes time and effort – collection of data, design and layout, distribution, maintenance and updating, etc. That is why, if a publisher is going to maintain one, they need to do it right, and get the most value out of it.

A good directory starts with a focus, one that aligns with the natural theme of the publication; unless the publication covers everything, directories are not meant to be a catch-all of every business in the area, but a summarization of the types of businesses a publisher’s audience might need most. For example, a city magazine will probably cover things that would attract tourists, like historical sites, restaurants, and unique stores. A horse magazine, on the other hand, may cover local stables, farrier shops, feed lots, and veterinarians. 

Publishers then need to think about recouping the costs involved with a directory. As stated, it takes quite a bit to produce one, so it needs to generate profit. Luckily, the directory model is already built similar to the advertisement model by providing an opportunity for smaller, simpler ad spaces that have high exposure, due to them being in a format that audiences use when they are actually searching for businesses. Further, the publisher may choose to limit certain categories in the directory. This not only helps cap the costs of the directory by limiting its size, but also reduces the supply of spaces for purchase, and thus increasing demand and driving price.

One of the more unique ways to leverage a directory is to turn it into a visual resource, like a local map. This not only gives the community a new way to interact with the content, but also allows it to serve as a greater resource for tourists and other out-of-town visitors, making the value of the spaces in the directory increase. Publication Printers works with a few publishers that do just this, such as Discover Estes, a map and directory guide for Estes Park, CO.

One of the other major benefits of directories is their long shelf-life. Most businesses and local entities that are listed within directories make limited changes to their information, meaning that, while there is upfront costs to develop a directory, maintaining them long-term requires minimal effort, but continues to provide long-term profits. That content also happens to be valuable information that readers look to, making it a branding benefit too.

Directories and publications that are not “local” focused

The value of a directory does not go down just because a publication’s geographic audience is wider. However, the ability to provide that sense of local benefit takes greater effort the larger the geographic area is, and it may even take multiple directories to provide the value appropriately. It is a greater undertaking for publishers of larger publications to do, but if leveraged well, the same benefits on a larger scale can take place.

Gannett, the well-known publishing group, actually made the move to create a digital directory on a large, yet geo-segmented scope to help support its audience. Support Local, as they named the platform, allows their audience to connect with local businesses and access special services. Support Local was built to help during the COVID-19 pandemic, but its value and potential benefit to Gannett will persist long after the pandemic ends.

Further Information

To learn more about how to monetize niche content, including directories, click here. If you would like more great content from Publication Printers and the Publication Printers Marketing Group, click here.

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Are Your Subscribers Loyal to Your Brand?

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The concept of a “loyal reader” has always been an important metric for magazines and newspapers. However, what actually constitutes a loyal reader, and how many loyal readers are really normal for a publication?

There are several different definitions for a loyal reader, most of which focus around the idea of a reader that comes back for more content, and is presumably consuming content due to the consistent exposure. The issue with these types of definitions is that it relegates a publication’s readership to a statistic; the loyalty of the audience is based solely on web traffic events or purchase consistency.

In more recent years, a particular metric has become easier to track, and it is much more telling of loyalty: engagement. Engagement is still a complicated thing to measure, as it involves tracking a lot of different outlets and types of connection with content, but it is a more accurate measure of a reader’s loyalty.

With this new, more realistic definition of a loyal reader in mind, it brings up an important question for publishers: are your subscribers loyal to your brand? In order to measure that, it is important to understand more about engagement and what it means in regards to subscription.

First, exposure to content does not mean that content is being consumed, so a subscriber is not inherently a loyal reader. However, subscribers do have more exposure to content due to their higher grade of access, and they have opted in. That is why measuring who engages, whether they are a subscriber or not, is important.

Second, habitual engagement, where a reader engages with new content as it is released, shows consistent connection to the publisher, and actually confirms that their frequent exposure results in something. If that reader is a subscriber, then they would qualify as loyal. If they are not yet subscribed, then they are a representation of who that publisher should be targeting.

Tracking engagement is a process that takes time and effort, and sometimes additional support or costs to do properly. With that kind of spend, what does a publisher get in return for being able to measure the percentage of loyal readers amongst their subscriber base?

Content Insights, a professional organization specializing in data collection and analysis, recently aggregated data on readership loyalty based on engagement as part of a study, which was a first in the content analytics industry. Their research covered data from 10 different publications over the course of a month, and the data was quite surprising.

  • Only 3.8% of readers qualified as “loyal” based on the habitual engagement definition.
  • In comparison to “ordinary” readers, “loyal” readers consumed an average of 5x more content.
  • “Loyal” readers averaged 4x the web visits of “ordinary” readers, and in each visit consumed 29% more content in general, and read an average of 14% more text on singular articles.

The Content Insights study also elaborates on this data with some real-world scenarios that show the major impact that loyal readers have in comparison to ordinary readers. For example, the ratio of articles read per visit (loyal: ordinary readers) is approximately 5.5:1 and the ratio of visits per month is 3.5:1.

When you take all of this data into account, loyal readers are shown to consume and engage with up to 19 articles for every 1 article by an ordinary reader.

Take this back to a publisher’s subscriber base. If a publisher can find out what drives higher loyalty from their subscribers, that will translate into knowing what content has better engagement, what topics generate more interest, and what outlets garner the highest amount of engagement. In general, knowing what drives loyalty greatly impacts the ability to drive revenue.

Also, as a last note, literal revenue generation can come from better understanding loyalty. If a publisher can find unsubscribed readers who have the potential to become loyal, based on their engagement, there is a great opportunity to increase subscriptions and also increase the percentage of loyal readers amongst the subscriber base.

Further Information:

To learn more about the study on reader engagement by Content Insights, click here. For more information about Content Insights in general, click here.

If you would like more great content from Publication Printers and the Publication Printers Marketing Group, click here.

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2020 Will Still See Newspaper Advertising, and for Good Reason

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Print advertising is big money. That said, recent advancements in social media and web ad placement have led to concerns about the state of print advertising, especially newspaper ads, the most common and most profitable print advertising space. While the concerns are fair, newspapers have nothing to worry about, and here are 5 points that prove it.

  1. Newspapers reach an average of 105 million readers a week in print and digital format, making them the most consumed medium.
  2. Content consumers consistently mark in surveys that they trust print content and advertisement more than online content. Also, print advertisement has a lesser negative impact on the reader’s experience, since online marketing is interruptive in nature.
  3. Millennials are the biggest generation currently consuming content, and while they are big proponents of digital content, they actually choose print as their main source of information due to its affordability.
  4. While the primary point of purchase is shifting more and more towards web sales, but most purchasers continue to start their journey towards a purchase based on print advertising exposure. That means that, while the journey ends elsewhere, it is still starting predominantly with print ads.
  5. Local content and local  economic impact are really important elements of American culture today, small communities rely heavily on local newspapers, with an average of 67% of small community residents reading the local paper at least once a week.

Further Information:

For more data and facts showing the security of newspaper advertisement in the New Year, click here. For newspaper ad types, tips, and examples from a thriving California publisher, click here.

If you would like more great content from Publication Printers and the Publication Printers Marketing Group, click here.

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