January 28, 2021

Scott Brodbeck on Building Hyperlocal Media Brands in the D.C. Area

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Scott Brodbeck is the founder, editor, and publisher of Local News Now, a network of hyperlocal media properties. What started as a single guy with a camera and a police scanner has turned into a media company with a small staff serving the D.C. area through multiple websites, both owned and through partnerships.

In this show, we discussed a variety of topics, but a few things jumped out…

On audience driving everything

When thinking about the most important part of his company’s success, it always goes back to the audience. Everything has become possible because of this focus on serving that audience.

“If you’re going to launch something new, especially in local, you need to get a sense of your market, your competition, and your potential audience and what’s really going to attract them. And then you need to execute every day.”

Once the audience exists, the business model follows. Advertisers chase the audience.

On selling to local advertisers

When many of us think about advertising, we look at things through the lens of large businesses. They’re going to discuss things like aggregate viewability, cost per thousand, and a variety of other metrics.

Local advertisers don’t work that way. The way they evaluate advertising is whether they can see the ad. If they can, it’s working. If they can’t, they question the campaign.

That’s why most of the advertising that is done in the network is sold on a share of voice, flat sponsorship. It’s easier for the advertiser to understand when they’re told, “your ad will show up 25% of the time.”

On growing through partnership

As Scott thinks about growing, there are two main paths forward. He could launch new, owned and operated sites, and staff them accordingly. Or, he can find other hyperlocal websites and partner with them.

In his mind, the latter is a better opportunity. These publications might have a single writer and a decent audience, but lack the business accument to actually sell advertising to local companies.

Because he’s built his sales team already, he believes there’s an opportunity to partner with these small sites, sell their inventory, and earn 50% of the revenue. Compare that to the heavier costs of hiring people.

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