BY JAKE LOESSIN
In the crowded tech-centric world we live in, many media companies have difficulties reaching consumers through suitable advertisements.
The Internet dominates the way advertisements are placed on sites, and many businesses are failing because they aren’t accurately reaching potential customers through traditional print and television advertisements.
However, one Austin-based company has created a way for media enterprises to reach their consumers in a much larger and faster way.
Ownlocal, which was founded in 2010, utilizes new web technologies to automate the sales process, thereby helping local media firms reach small business customers. Ownlocal does this by processing the traditional print, audio and television advertisements into digital or Internet advertising. This process generates new revenue for companies through promotional advertisements and messages delivered through email, online advertising on search engines, social media websites, and banner ads on mobile or web based sites.
Ownlocal’s Chief Executive Officer and Founder Lloyd Armbrust had 15 years of experience in the newspaper industry before starting the company.
“I realized the newspaper industry was changing with the advent of the Internet,” says Armbrust. “The print business model was having a hard time sustaining any type of viability with the emergence of the digital world. I really wanted to find a way to preserve the print model while transitioning over to the digital model as well.”
Armbrust’s plan took off. More than 2,500 local media companies today use Ownlocal to power their digital advertisements. Some of the companies include the Austin American-Statesman, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.
Scott Pompe, vice president of advertising at the Statesman, said Ownlocal has a large impact on the local newspaper.
“The challenges the Statesman faces are really the challenges of the industry,” Pompe says. “The newspaper relies on print for the majority of its revenue, but at the same time, we know that digital is where we need to be.”
“OwnLocal has helped us bring the print world into the digital world in a way that we haven’t been able to do on our own,” Pompe says. “We are now generating thousands of dollars in new recurring revenue for the newspaper every month and providing a gateway to upsell those customers into larger digital packages.”
Ownlocal is making its mark outside of the Austin area as well. Freedom Communications is one of the few newspapers in the country that has continued to grow. Freedom, which is located in Santa Ana, California, owns Orange County Register, one of the largest newspapers in the United States.
“Ownlocal is a tech company that believes in the power of local media,” says Andrew McFadden, director of innovation and business development at Freedom Communications.
“With OwnLocal we’ve not only doubled revenue from our prior vendors but have gained insight that has made us a better news company,” McFadden says.
Armbrust recognizes the six-year-old company’s success and attributes it to learning from his own mistakes and not always listening to outside advice.
“I think you have to fall down a couple of times before you can truly grow something and start doing things the right way,” says Armbrust. “People’s advice can sometimes be clouded by one’s own success. Just because it worked in their experience doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in your experience. If you have a vision of what you want to do, your success depends on following through with your own plan and not carrying out someone else’s.”