By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)
An opportunity to collaborate with the Google News Initiative (GNI) is very much welcomed by newspaper publishers in particular who are coming to grips with both the opportunities and challenges of digital advertising.
The necessity to embrace a “digital first” business priority is the financial-sustainability handwriting that has been on the wall of the newspaper publishing industry before we were all hit with the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet, it is the reality today of the persistent global pandemic coupled with the concomitant preexisting conditions of poverty, social inequalities, and racial injustice in America’s minority communities that have converged to accelerate the challenge for a new virtual and digital advertising-normal for African American-owned and Latino American-owned newspapers, as well as for alternative news media companies, across the nation.
The last thing that all of our newspapers need today is a widening digital divide and technology gap. Advertising continues to be the sustainable lifeblood of both local and national newspapers. Digital advertising and especially digital “programmatic advertising” continue to irreversibly change how the marketplace has become profitable and sustainable for those news publishing companies that have the trained staffing and requisite technology infrastructure to compete.
It is in this timely context that the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP), and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) have agreed to join in an industry collaboration with the Google News Initiative.
We are pleased, therefore, to announce the launch of the Google News Initiative Ad Transformation Lab. This much needed and innovative collaboration will directly assist the NNPA, NAHP and the AAN to acquire digital advertising training and to upgrade technology platforms and infrastructures required for effective, efficient, and engaging programmatic advertising.
Additional partners who are key members of the GNI Ad Transformation Lab (ATL) collaboration are the Center for Community Media at CUNY and Borealis Philanthropy. The GNI ATL will be a 6-month cohort-based digital strategy and enablement program for news publishers in the U.S. and Canada to support Black and Latino-owned legacy and digital native news organizations focused on serving local and underrepresented communities.
I am personally and professionally enthusiastic about the GNI Ad Transformation Lab because I have witnessed too many times how in particular Black and Latina publishers are overlooked and undervalued by major digital advertisers because of the digital gap inside the advertising infrastructures in our trade associations’ member publications.
It is not a question of competence. It is an issue of the pace and process of migration and transformation to “digital first” from solely print advertising that produces sustainable revenue streams and profits. These additional revenue streams for our newspaper publishers can then be reinvested strategically to keep our member newspaper publishers at the cutting edge of continued industry innovations and market advances in the growing digital advertising space.
In part the program objectives of this unique GNI collaboration will also include advancing the digital transformation through extensive analytical, technical, and research expertise from experienced consultants and peers to accelerate digital migration and to create sustainable digital advertising revenue streams for our participating member newspapers respectively.
The Ad Transformation Lab will assist publishers to develop and to clarify their digital content and distribution strategy; optimize their websites; improve their digital advertising capabilities and experiences; and to act on these improvements to generate incremental advertising revenues.
There will be an open selection process for interested publishers to apply. A representative body representing the members of the collaboration will select from the applicant pool those publishers who will participate in the GNI Ad Transformation Lab program.
The success of the program will be indicative of the digital maturity and achievement demonstrated by adoption of digital CMS; innovative integration of advertising platforms with best practices delineated; improvement of digital KPIs (e.g. page speed, ad load, etc.); and, the program’s impact scalability to the broader community of publishers.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), and a 60-year veteran of the Black Press of America and the Civil Rights Movement. He can be contacted at ResponseToChavis@nnpa.org
NNPA (The National Newspaper Publishers Association) is an association of over 230 minority and women owned media companies with a weekly print and digital readership of over 25.85 million Black consumers across the United States. They are trusted, embedded and connected in their local communities, are significantly influential, and are one of the “Guardians of Democracy.” With its reach and influence, NNPA can help with effective outreach to the African American Community. Visit https://blackpressusa.com/