Turning Digital into Dollars: How Local Print Publishers Can Monetize Online Assets


There are plenty of ways that one can make money and deliver value, build an audience and establish oneself as the anchored tenant in a local community—it just comes down to finding the right way and, of course, doing it right. Here Shweiki Media Printing Company teams up with Brian Ostrovsky, founder and CEO of Locable, to present local print publishers with a must-watch webinar on the right way to monetize digital.

Print is Not Dying

At Locable, they have a worldview that “print is not dying, but print-only businesses are.” The simple reality is that this is a multi-dimensional world, and businesses are looking for multi-dimensional solutions.  Therefore, one must be able to provide a multi-dimensional approach and convey the value of each dimension along the way.

Locable helps publishers maximize the assets they already have in place. Its network is about 80 strong and they work with local magazines, newspapers and independent, online-only publishers.

Think Differently: See the World through a Solutions Approach

To be successful in this world, the first thing a person must do is think differently and look at the world through a solutions approach.  A solutions approach involves solving real problems by creating solutions that are unique to the situation and the problem, rather than merely solving a problem in the cheapest or most competitive manner.

Every consumer goes through the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) model when making a purchase, and different types of advertisements and promotions play to different levels on the AIDA model. Understanding how they fit together will help one be more effective not only in the selling process but also when it comes to delivering solutions.


It’s important for one to position themselves as the marketing expert and not let the potential client/consumer say no. One should present the prospect with an answer they can’t refuse and help them understand the reality of the situation.

 Driving Revenue, Traffic and Engagement

Many people might think that they would love to make money from digital but feel that they do not have enough traffic to their site, their Facebook page is not very impressive, or they do not have an email list. Traditionally, this would be a problem, but the traditional process is no longer valid. In fact, Ostrovsky’s process will help one make money and deliver value in the short termwhile simultaneously growing one’s audience for long-term revenue growth.

How do you drive revenue, traffic and engagement?

  • Social promotions
  • Sponsored content-articles, columns, featured events, guides
  • Sponsored emails and coupons
  • Site sponsors/charter sponsors
  • Audience extension
  • IMPACT-Web Presence

Note that the last two areas are bolded.  This is because as local publishers, these are the two areas that you probably won’t be able to do on your own.  However, with a company’s help, like Locable, you can deliver.

Community Sponsors

What is a community sponsor?

  • About the community
  • An opportunity to brag
  • Locked-in pricing for the client
  • Guaranteed revenue for the publisher
  • NOT for everyone.  The main thing one is looking for here is local leaders.

Why Lead with Community Sponsors?

Leading with community sponsors allows one to convey value ahead of details. The good and bad aspect of digital is that there are so many valuable offerings that can be delivered, so the best course of action is to offer simple. One should convey the value, which make saying yes easier and helps get the conversation going.  It’s important to remember that this is the start, not the finish, so one should begin with the simple things and work off that into sales conversations.

With digital in particular, editorial and revenue activities can play nicely together without breaking the rules.

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Social Promotions and Guides–Getting Paid to Grow An Audience!

Social promotions are giveaways, sweepstakes or contests. They run through social media and how one runs social promotions matters. For example, Idaho Falls Magazine joined Locable and sold three week-long social promotions, which were executed on their behalf by Locable over the course of six weeks.

  • 1,000 new Facebook likes
  • 250 new email opt-ins to their email list

This is epitome of doing something today that will make money and grow an audience in the long term. Now Idaho Falls has a thousand more people following them on Facebook and 250 more people they can reach via email for the next event.

Likewise, guides are another great way to build an audience. For example, Locable did the Area Holiday Light Show Guide for Mansfield Magazine The sponsor was a local print advertiser who spent a couple hundred dollars.  It elevated engagement and spawned follow-on content. It is best to ride these waves seasonally throughout the year.

There are always things one can tap into when selling sponsorships, and there are also things that work at any point during the year. Does a sponsor influence content? Absolutely not. Is it great for them to be associated? Absolutely.

Social Promotions and Added Value

Social promotions have the ability to serve as tremendous, highly shareable sales tools.  There is constantly ongoing, interactive play between revenue activities and editorial activities.

User-Inspired Content: To acquire user-inspired content, once can post a simple question to the Facebook page such as “What would you like to see in 2015?” If one has a Facebook page that gets a lot of engagement, they can generate a lot of engagement and potentially gain viral reach.

Calendar and Directory: It’s important for every local site to have a robust calendar and directory, because too often those two pieces are forgotten. The calendar and directory need to be a part the strategy.

The Day of Cold Calls are Numbered

The day of cold calls are numbered because every single lead in the community can be done in a warm way.

Today, there are many ways to reach out to a business without making a cold call.  One can write an article mentioning a business, feature a business’s event, or add a business to their directory listing as a free form of promotion, and then send the business a notification to alert them to it. This starts a conversation in which one has already given the prospect something. It is best to follow up a few weeks later by reaching out again, asking how else one can help and whether or not the prospect has any questions. Suddenly, a lead that was originally pretty cold has been made quite a bit warmer.

Monetizing Audiences

When looking at monetizing an audience, one should go beyond audiences and start thinking of it in terms of an agency. One can sell ads with audience extension, which reaches locals on nationwide websites. In other words, one can sell ads that will appear on other people’s websites, such as Better Homes and Gardens, but only target locals in the interested zip codes. All the data is based on Nielsen, ComScore and Quantcast to target the appropriate audience.

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Whether the goal is trying to make a little more money, make digital a more prominent, effective piece of the business, or become the local leader in the community, it is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Unlike print, where one has to put out a specific number of pages with a specific number of ads, digital can be done step by step.

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Brian Ostrovsky

Founder and CEO of Locable
Brian founded Locable in 2009 as part of a research project while in the MBA program at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. Brian recently served as Entrepreneur in Residence at Sonoma State University and has consulted at several startups including Fundability.com. Brian also earned an M.S. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota and a B.A. in Business Administration from Azusa Pacific University. Brian grew up in Placerville, a small town in Northern California with a quintessential Main Street.

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