McClatchy’s Dan Schaub shares his thoughts on newspaper cross-media reporting and why he believes open communication is the right path to media trust and transparency.
AAM: To start, what does media transparency mean to McClatchy?
Dan Schaub: McClatchy's long-term goals include being a good partner with advertisers, maintaining a strong partnership with our industry peers and leading the way in telling the positive story of our industry. And if need be, we also lead the path towards getting the requisite data to tell our story.
For example, during the past few years, we’ve worked closely with NAA and AAM to make sure we have the tools and data to show the makeup of our audience. And today, we have more products and more disclosure than ever. There’s print, digital, paid, free—all designed to accurately display the total and the pieces of the pie that make up a publisher’s targeted reach.
AAM: It has been a few years since the transition to quarterly reporting. Why is that project important?
DS: Historically, our approach to reporting was pretty inflexible and nonreflective of the variable nature of volumes and products during a given year. FAS-FAX statements, for example, measured volumes every six months for what seemed like forever. Now we’re transforming and better helping buyers by providing quarterly quantifiable numbers and a better look into all publications in a given market.
We're also providing a comprehensive picture of a publisher’s footprint. If you go into the Media Intelligence Center and see the CMR, it provides a window into a newspaper’s market effectiveness, local reach and print and digital volumes. Truth be told, newspapers provide a very good reach and effectiveness picture today—a much better picture than other media. If you tried to get the same level of market detail we provide on TV or radio, you'd find very little detail for a specific timeframe.
We’re now counting volumes each and every day. That’s where traditional newspaper publishers have an edge. Our approach is to own as much data about our audiences as possible and leverage that data to the benefit of readers and advertisers.
AAM: Tell me about your approach to audience and ad sales.
DS: On the advertising side, we work hard to better understand our audience. We recently did a readership study about how readers use and think about our Sunday Select product. We’re now sharing findings and insights with advertisers to better explain how the product fits or may fit into their advertising mix.
We are constantly reviewing the user experience for each of our platforms too. Recently we redesigned our print, mobile and web products using design-thinking and customer feedback within the product design phase. We’ve held Stanford Design Institute-led read and advertiser design-thinking boot camps where we talk about current challenges and needs, and rapidly develop product prototypes and test new products.
AAM: When you hear about solutions to ad blocking, one of the main points is the user experience with ads. Is that a focus for your work with the Stanford Design Institute?
DS: It all fits into the framework of full transparency and understanding how our markets, readers and advertisers are changing and then creating campaigns and products to meet their needs.
It used to be we went to market touting one or product types—print and a website. But think of a street with 10 houses. There’s a student who gets news from a mobile device, an office worker with a desktop computer, a retiree who wants print. We need to first understand customers' needs, then think about what will fulfill their needs and, finally, introduce products or create products exceeding their expectations.
AAM: Does your relationship with consumers on a local level give you an advantage?
DS: Looking at and working hard to understand consumer needs has made our jobs more fun today than ever before. Years ago, we gathered data and knew households better than anybody. We now have even more data—individual data. There’s a history of interaction with our print products, and we have relationships. Carriers touch the households, and we learn about the individual. We get to learn more about what the consumer likes and then target deals and offerings to them.
AAM: Could you share any best practices, pointers, advice to build more media industry trust?
DS: The number one thing we all should be doing is increasing communication and working together, whether advertiser partners, consumers or peers. We need to work hard every day to develop a deep understanding of how consumers use our products and what advertisers need and then connect the dots. Businesses are part of the community, so it makes a community better when we stand in the middle and connect consumers to businesses. If you do nothing else, get closely connected to consumers and buyers and create a circle all can communicate.