Going Loco

Local advertising remains a tough sell for online publishers, at least if you’re not a mass media offshoot. It’s not that money isn’t flowing. A recent MediaPost article notes that “media executives allocated a greater share of their clients’ online dollars to local media in the third quarter” (18 percent versus 13 percent in the first half). But local TV, newspaper and radio station websites will get most of that.

“Outside of classifieds, local ad spending online remains relatively immature,” David Card, Vice President and Senior Analyst at JupiterResearch said in a recent forecast. “For now, online publishers and networks will find better opportunities servicing national advertisers that are aiming at local audiences than they will (in) servicing true local businesses.”

Local advertisers simply don’t understand new media or how to buy it — a confusion they share with big media buyers as I noted earlier this week. Internet Week Magazine recently made the same point in a different context, reporting on an American Advertising Federation survey that found large advertisers studying but not yet spending on blogs, podcasts and other new media.

“Because they’re so new, there’s a bit of caution in approaching these media,” AAF spokeswoman Mary Hilton told Internet Week. “They haven’t been tested enough for people to confidently rate them highly. It’s a wait-and-see approach.”

Internet Week reported that Hilton said “that approach, however, is not uncommon in the industry … other forms of online advertising three years ago was seen as experimental, but has since become part of the traditional mix.”

Until ad buyers, large or small, are comfortable with new media formats and prices, sellers will have to do a lot of education and hand-holding. (Note to myself: what does an advertising rate card look like for digital media? And how are sellers making the pitch, on laptop presentations, flip-binders or whatever?)

I’ll return to advertising in future posts but, meanwhile, before I sign off for a while, let me throw up a few items and make a note about blog postings while my family and I take a vacation.

The Wall Street Journal and CNet have both posted “must-read” blog rolls in recent weeks. The WSJ list strikes me as somewhat arbitrary, but contains some pointers on topics of interest to me, such as a link to Paid Content, which I check routinely for media stuff. I also learned about the Health Care Blog, and though I don’t know about author Matthew Holt, the Journal reference carries weight. CNet put together 100 sites, broken into categories, and added ways to incorporate these sites into your reading schedule. Congrats to CNet on a great effort well worth your attention.

Finally, I will be away for most of the next two weeks on a family trip, and rather than leave this space vacant or interrupt some much needed family time, I will post re-runs that articulate the kernel of my mini-media thinking. Meanwhile, I will rest my CPU and come back with some fresh thoughts in a couple of weeks.

Tom Abate
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media