When you’re bad, mediocre looks good: Dayton Daily news attempts at social

I had a talk with Ron Rollins last night at the Sideshow X. Ron’s an artist, and the editor of the “Opinion pages” of the Dayton Daily news.

He assured me that the Dayton Daily news was not for sale. I think that decision is way above his paygrade, but, I’m glad he’s so sure.

In the world of journalism, there had always been the struggle of keeping the journalism and the business/ad side separate. With the advent of the internet and the free sharing of content news organizations got scared. Very scared. The first and biggest enemy was Craigslist- where their bread and butter money maker- classified ads- went flying away too. Instantly.

Craigslist isn’t perfect. They have a real problem with spammers- especially in the personals sections (the benefit of these spam ads has never been obvious to me, same way spam email never made much sense either). But, the prospect of free for a listing to hire your new office manager or to sell your crib beat the hell out of $7 a line of micro type for a day on the non-searchable, version the newspaper provided.

Hence, newspapers love to run stories about Craigslist killers, thieves and scams.

The real issue of the “newspaper” was never the news part- it was the “paper” part. Taking the electron bits that were used by word processors, digital cameras, page layout programs, etc.- and converting them into physical atoms- was and is expensive. It’s also stupid. For the price of a bad tablet- you can rent subscribers a digital version much cheaper than the cost of printing a paper, and distributing it across the region. The brainiacs at Cox built the state of the art buggy whip printing facility (in Warren County) just about the time the Internet was about to take off. They try to put frosting on the pig by calling it a “Print Technology Center.”

In an everlasting quest to make a buck- they follow other models blindly and think they know what they are doing as page counts go up- which means ad showings go up. This was what Ron was so proud of last night- and I’m just laughing.

Besides being a pain in the ass to Dayton, with this blog, my real job is owning a small ad agency. The reasons it’s small, and in Dayton are because of personal choices I’ve made as the only son of two amazing aging parents that I have to take care of. Although I may bitch about it sometimes, I can’t think of anything that makes me happier than to have them across the street from me- and for me to be able to give them back the time they spent raising me.

All that said- my ad agency isn’t like the others- it’s called “The Next Wave” for a reason- and the main one is that I’ve always been ahead of the curve on where the industry is headed- first with a Mac for Desktop publishing and direct to film print prep, digital video, open source content management, organic SEO, customer relationship management systems, social media, and now working with sophisticated marketing automation.

Advertisers no longer struggle with finding space to run ads- online there is an almost infinite supply of ad space to buy, and while it’s easy to sell ads to the unsophisticated locals who still think they know how to buy ads and make them on their own, the real money in advertising these days is going to companies that can directly target very specific customers- which is why Facebook is cashing in beyond it’s wildest dreams and Yahoo is not. Note, the Dayton Daily had a partnership with Yahoo for a while.

In order to directly target customers for advertising, there are a couple of keys online: very specific content that is accessed by a distinct URL, with very little chance of inadvertent clicks (meaning ads that you are trying to navigate past to get to  more content- don’t count as clicks when most of them are accidental) and that the content can’t be accessed without a click- meaning the whole paper as a picture on an iPad that can be scanned- isn’t worth a damn for generating targeting data.

Facebook is fighting click bait like crazy- the idea that you post content that forces a click with teasers is bad in their book- because it makes you go off their site to another- and this is the main way that the DDn is driving views and thinking they have a “social strategy”- they don’t.

Social media has been co-opted by idiots who think it’s a one way platform to foist your content and ads onto people. That may be 95% of what social is by current day practitioners- but it’s not. Social is two way – with hosted, moderated conversations- like the comments on this site. Where social discussion takes place. Very few old media have figured out the power of subscription to comments either via email or RSS- but, it’s what makes Facebook so powerful- example in case I’ve lost you- you comment on a friends post, every time someone else comments, you get a notification asking you to come back and comment again- that’s social strategy.

I could write an entire book on the strategy of effective social marketing- but instead I’ve been teaching my www.websitetology.com seminars since 2005. No one from the Dayton Daily news has ever taken the seminar- and it’s too bad- they might have learned something.

The Dayton Daily thinks their launch of www.Dayton.com is somehow a success. Rollins even thinks the clown posse they hired to help them with the marketing of it know what they are doing. Of course, when you’re bad, mediocre looks good. The reality is, adding more properties to manage isn’t the answer- launching good ones is. We’ve seen them try this before- and I mocked it then, anyone remember MeetFred.com?

The reality is that most of the people in journalism still don’t know how the internet can make their content gathering and curation so much easier and more powerful. You wouldn’t believe what I can learn in advance from this site and its web-stats. I know when almost anyone in the public sector is job hunting- or been naughty, before you’ll ever read about it in the Dayton Daily news. And just remember, this is the hobby site of one person- they have an entire paid staff doing theirs….

The real question is- and I ask this of my readers who’ve taken the time to read this, if they call, how much should I charge the people at Cox Media to tell them how to save their sorry “media empire?”

 

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