About Me

  • I've spent more than 25 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies and startups. You can read more about me here.

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December 17, 2008


Bill Dunphy

Hey Mark - Getting newspapers to focus on online advertising (and especially on doing it right) is very smart advice. But Langeveld is dead wrong on one key point - integrated sales staff. I would argue, and there's solid research from Borrell Associates (as part of the American Press Institutes excellent Newspaper Next project) which shows that the newspapers that captured a disproportionate share of online revenue in their markets ALL had dedicated online-only ad staff. You NEED online only for a couple of very good reasons: reps selling mixed platforms will naturally push the most lucrative (and that's still print, by far) and they'll sell to their same old clients, which, when successful often just cannibalizes the print revenue or increases it incrementally. Online-only reps, especially those without a print background are going to find a new customer base, and because their darn dinner depends on it, they're going to push online very, very hard. These are the ones who will innovate for you. Let the print sales reps cross sell and generate some small increases, but look to the new kids to really drive new sales.

Mark Potts

Bill: Thanks for the comment. I go back and forth on this one, and in fact double-clutched a bit in listing it as a smart comment by Langeveld. I understand the need for different approaches (and management and compensation schemes), but I keep thinking, perhaps optimistically, that if the right management, compensation, training and sales personnel are in place, successful integrated sales should be possible. I can dream, can't I?

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