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We are entering springtime after a long hard winter. The cherry trees are in bloom and the baseball season has begun. The earliest known mention of baseball in the United States was a 1791 Pittsfield, Massachusetts ordinance banning the playing of the game within 80 yards of the town meeting house.

Americans have been bound to their local baseball teams and the local media (local TV stations and newspapers) that report on their favorite team and players for over a hundred years. Generations of sports fans rely on local media to provide the in-depth, real-time reporting beloved by local sports fans. These local media companies produce Pulitzer and Peabody prize content of unmatched quality.

Here are the audience/revenue issues facing local TV stations and newspapers owners today.

Over the last five years, there has been a dramatic shift in the way people are consuming content from local TV stations and newspapers. According to a 2014 Comscore report, 60% of digital consumption for the major local TV stations and newspapers is on smartphones and tablets. The number of people consuming content on smartphones and tablets will only continue as smartphone and tablet penetration increases.

The visionaries were right: “If you build it they will come.”

The visionaries of today are the local TV stations and newspaper visionaries who saw a rapidly changing landscape a few years ago and took action. They built their mobile audiences either directly or via local ad networks. Even these leaders could not have seen the exponential growth of the last five years, which has seen the most rapid shift in audience and consumer behavior ever recorded.

Are local TV stations and newspapers prepared to monetize these audiences?

The answer is yes and reason is their survival depends on it. I believe that we are entering the golden age of local content. The SoLoMo (social, local, mobile) trend clearly favors local content producers, especially those trusted by their local community. Another trend favoring local media is the spending on location-targeted mobile ads, which will increase 55% from $2.9 billion in 2013 to $4.9 billion this year, and reach $15.7 billion in 2018 according to a 2014 report released by BIA/Kelsey. Increasing advertisers and brands are favoring direct publisher relationships, which further strengthens the bond between local quality content providers and brands.

Here is how to solve mobile monetization opportunity.

Local TV stations and newspapers should be thinking about the mobile opportunity across the entire business as the first step. Mobile is simple, so stop making it complicated. Mobile is about snacking, look at the numbers of those winning on mobile.

Measure your mobile brand against content, context, connectivity, community and convenience.

Content: Are you providing distinctive differences by screen?

Context: Do you understand the who, what, when, why and how for your users?

Connectivity: How are users consuming and sharing your content?

Community: How are you connecting to communities that care?

Convenience: Is your content integrated into new and emerging platforms?

Next, there are five things you need to do to monetize mobile:

1. Put Mobile First In Everything You Do.

2. Create Content For Smartphone and Tablets.

3. Know Your Audience and Show Your Audience Value To Brands.

4. Design A Compelling User Experience.

5. Be A Leader, “Skate To Where The Puck Is Going.”

I believe that continued innovations in storytelling, design and award-winning reporting will win the mobile future for local TV stations and newspapers.

Dan Hodges is Managing Director of Consumers in Motion, LLC. He can be reached at Dan Hodges

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