WCCO-TV today announced the launch of the WCCO-TV Minneapolis/St. Paul Network, “a first-of-its-kind partnership between a major media company’s owned television station and local blogs and social media sites” delivered through embeddable news widgets.
According to their press release, this network (and why they’re pitching we bloggers and social media types) is, “Site owners participating in the WCCO-TV Minneapolis/St. Paul Network receive a portion of the advertising revenue generated by WCCO-TV, which is responsible for selling the advertising space within the widgets. There are three widget formats available, each with IAB standard ad units, and partners can select from six topical news feeds to provide the most relevant content for the publisher’s site.”
The jury is still out on whether or not local ad networks will drive viewer/readership toward local TV news outlets, but I’ve got to acknowledge the foresight in doing something to engage local new media creators, and they’re giving you, a blogger, site owner or community news organization, an opportunity to schmooze with WCCO folks at a “bloginar” next week.
While a potentially laudable effort to engage us, I suspect it’s not enough and could be so much more.
I’ll give you one example about my concerns over an ad-driven widget strategy vs. one that enables repurposing of WCCO content and delivers revenue generation for them as they experience dwindling and increasingly elderly viewers, accelerating inability to compete with online delivery of news and information, all while holding an incredible legacy of trust, journalistic ethics, and the understanding of how to monetize news and information.
Rather than have the ability to embed the WCCO video directly in my post, I instead had to link to their page with their article and the video alongside it. While this drives their pageviews and thus advertising revenue for them, doing so is a disservice to my readers since they have to go to yet another page, orient themselves in order to consume the content, and hopefully make their way back to my blog. Of course, this is one key reason why most bloggers and social media types are suspect of the motivations of any sort of traditional media when it comes to access to content or new strategies like the one WCCO is rolling out now.
Shared advertising revenue through embeddable news widgets? I’m in serious doubt if any local blog, social news or community site will receive anything but nickels-n-dimes in a revenue sharing model through embedded widgets. Unless the respective pageviews of participating blogs/social/community/news sites are significant — which they’re unlikely to be individually but would be in the aggregate, making WCCO’s strategy seemingly worthwhile for them — revenue generated by widget clicks will undoubtedly be laughingly small for those of us new media folks who might opt to participate.
As I mull over WCCO delivering a widget with “real-time news feeds of local headlines and images to ensure updated content on partner sites 24-hours a day” and when clicked on in the widget take my readers to “their full stories and videos, available on the WCCO-TV site at WCCO.COM“, I see there is an opportunity to do more…
OPPORTUNITY TO DO MORE
I wonder about WCCO, StarTribune, Minnesota Public Radio/Twin Cities Public Television, Internet Broadcasting Systems and other “traditional” news media that have an opportunity unprecedented in the history of mass media: dozens, hundreds, even thousands of potential stringers who have high quality input devices (digital cameras, video, computers) and could be unleashed on local news gathering and content creation.
Add to that cheap, free and powerful software like WordPress, Drupal and other open source offerings, and blog networks (e.g., imagine one blog for every city in Minnesota, led by a vetted, trained leader), community news sites and other outlets could be created or aggregated and a much more powerful network of local content — and ads running on all of them — would be available throughout our State.
At a minimum, WCCO needs to “free up” their content and consider embedding discrete, non-annoying advertisements directly into embeddable video feeds, or perhaps have a “player” that has the embedded video with other content, ads and so forth surrounding it. Give us encapsulated value vs. some way to link to your site and send our readers/viewers to you, WCCO.
Of course, this requires thought leadership and vision, which seems in short supply amongst those clinging to old models, but I appreciate the extraordinary difficulty WCCO and others are having in finding new paths through a chaotic, and rapidly shifting online media landscape…but hope they do more rather than have us all out here be an aggregated afterthought in their strategies.
I sure wish I was in town for this event (I can’t attend as I’m out of the country) as entering in to a dialogue with the WCCO’ers would be interesting. I just received the evite below and thought it was something that any of you bloggers or site owners out there might be interested in however.
The links in the graphic are: