Monetizing Sonoma Media

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Recently, Ad Age’s Michael Learmouth published ?Wanted: Online Payment Plan for Print,? in which industry pundits grope for a monetization model that won’t incite readers of traditional print media to scurry to the blogosphere by mere mention of paying for content.

As a 15-year media pro working a micro-market with more than its share of newspapers and their corresponding web-presences, flanked by open-mic style broadcast media and an island mentality from which at least one entity seems eager to recover, the view from the inside is not cluttered with dollar signs. However, given the burgeoning brand-equity of ?Sonoma? to national and international lifestyle marketers, it would seem local media is rather well-poised to leverage its native provenance to attract a readership outside the valley. Attract readers interested in the Sonoma brand and attract affinity marketers who seek affiliation with the brand and all that it entails. And, of course, don’t charge the readers for the privilege of being sponsor-bait.

Interestingly, legacy newspapers like the New York Times, or indeed, the Sonoma Index-Tribune, for which I pen a weekly column, have over a century of longtail content that can be aggregated and packaged into modules edible by smart phones and on-demand publishing projects. Wine and travel guides as well as publications that speak to the historical tourism trend are a natural for the valley. Likewise, those with an eye to the future might embrace the fact that the denizens of the local mediascape are experts on Sonoma. Who better to represent the ethos of the town and its myriad experiences to interested parties worldwide? Targeted content could be subsidized online with the same ?brought to by? sponsorships already getting traction in blogs such as Mashable.

Does this model fall outside the purview of the traditional small town newspaper, whose m?tier is a printed product that encapsulates the civic and cultural experience of its community? Yes, but in a finite market such as Sonoma, I submit that growth will come with exporting the Sonoma concept beyond our borders. What we do with wine, we can do with words. And beyond.

Indeed, it’s an exciting time to be a Sonoman in the biz. Lest my local readers think I’m too Pollyana about the state of media monetization, I’ll keep off the sunny side of the street.

Kachingle offers another solution:

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