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Eight In Ten Local Media Pros Expect Digital Revenue Growth in 2024.

Digital advertising revenue was up in 2023 compared to the previous year for nearly half of respondents (49%) who participated in a Local Media Consortium survey. Just over one in five (21%) said it was flat and 19% reported a decrease in digital ad revenue.

Respondents to the organization’s Local Media Industry Insights Survey 2023 included C-suite executives, sales, marketing, operations, IT and other professionals employed by local newspapers, broadcast and online news outlets across North America and Puerto Rico.

Looking ahead to 2024, a majority (79%) of respondents anticipate an increase in overall digital revenue, while only 3% expect it to decrease next year.

"It's encouraging to see that local media professionals have such a positive outlook for their digital business, despite many challenges navigating the ever-changing digital landscape," said Fran Wills, CEO of the LMC. "It will be interesting to watch how continued digital transformation, advancements in AI for content, advertising and operations, and the upcoming election impact the local news business, which we expect will continue to play a vital role in communities across the country."

Top successes for local media in 2023 were digital subscription (21%), website/app redesigns (17%), new digital tools/technology (13%) and video/OTT/CTV (13%) and agency services (13%). Top challenges were digital technology resources/expertise (39%), website traffic declines (25%), advertising revenue declines (20%) and staffing/training (11%). 

The survey found the highest priority categories for local media outlets to focus on in the upcoming year are advertising monetization strategies, audience and engagement growth, and data and audience insights focusing on first-party data to drive both consumer and advertising revenue growth.

Areas also identified by the survey as important to local media in 2024 are content innovation and diversification, video monetization strategies, privacy and compliance, recruiting and retention, and video content strategies. Surprisingly, only 7% of respondents listed AI as the highest priority category for the coming year.

And while AI isn't yet a priority for local media outlets, it is a top trend to watch in 2024, with nearly a majority citing AI (49%) as only second behind community engagement (59%) as a top trend on industry professionals' radars. Other trends that local newspapers, broadcasters and online outlets will be watching include cross-platform strategies (48%), video distribution (29%) and podcasts (17%), as well as adoption of VR and AR technology (4%).

Asked about their favorite ways to keep up with industry trends, local media professionals chose newsletters, conferences, articles and webinars.

"Our annual survey helps us keep a finger on the pulse of the industry and better understand the opportunities and challenges facing local media," said Wills.

The Local Media Consortium includes more than 5,000 local newspaper, radio, TV and online-only news outlets.

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