Sunday, October 4, 2009

Local Media's Hidden Asset

Their Salesforces

That's the word from venture capitalist Fred Wilson on his blog. His company Union Square Ventures has an investment in Target Spot among many other companies.

He writes:
Traditional local media companies; radio stations, TV stations, local newspapers, and the like, are in a tough situation. Each of those businesses had a monopoly or near monopoly on their audiences a decade ago. Now none of them do.

...these businesses have been trained to think their strengths are local and relevant content, their monopolies or near monopolies on distribution (spectrum in the case of radio and TV), and their brands. All of these assets are waning quickly.

But there is one asset that is still quite significant and the value of it is growing, not shrinking. It is their large, well trained, and well connected salesforces.
There's more:
The media business, either on the national or local level, is losing its grip on audiences as they fragment and disperse all over the digital realm (including of course mobile). But they do not need to lose their grip on the relationships they have built up with local merchants since the days of Mad Men. What they need to do, and what they are increasingly doing, is reselling the inventory of others to their customers.
If we buy into his thesis, this could represent a bold opportunity for local sellers that goes beyond the terrestrial signal. It seems to me that for as long as local stations still command high cume levels and acceptable TSL this strategy will be a tough putt. That's not to say that Fred Wilson is wrong. I think he has the right idea.

Lastly, selling in the digital space is a different animal so one has to question are the local sellers properly trained to make this transition.

Before posting this I went back and re-read the article just to be sure I captured its essence to my satisfaction. I also read through the comment section and sure enough others also questioned whether or not local ad sellers had the skills necessary to pull of the digital platform sell.

So, here we are at a crossroad...opportunities abound yet there are numerous landmines along the way.

Read Fred Wilson's entire post here.

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