Conrad JungmannIt’s hard to call 7,200 local news websites an overlooked opportunity, but bear with us for a second.

Everyone in the advertising business can’t stop talking about the latest developments in programmatic, algorithmic and targeted digital solutions and that certainly makes sense. Some of the opportunities available are amazing.

But there are some equally amazing opportunities for another approach that has pretty much been overlooked — because it’s too darn hard to implement.

Until now.

Imagine you run a company that owns fast-food restaurants in 18 communities, or a furniture store with three locations or a convention and visitors bureau. What if you had a way to easily put your advertising message in the specific markets you were interested in or in all markets within a state or within 100 miles of a specific city or town. And you could access this capability for free and execute it with one click of your mouse.

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) and Seattle-based LION Digital Media are rolling out LIONshare®, a free digital-media planning platform that gives retailers and their advertising agencies quick and easy access to those 7,200 local media websites.

“By having every local media property on one platform, LIONshare basically has turned local media into one huge marketplace with an incredibly loyal audience with unprecedented scale,” said Conrad Jungmann, founder of LION Digital Media and a 2014-15 RJI Fellow.

Advertisers and their ad agencies no longer need reach out to hundreds of local media properties in their target markets to individually gather capabilities, rankings, traffic numbers and rates.

“It’s an efficiency play,” said LIONshare co-architect Michael Koontz. “Imagine if you were a busy media planner for a national client that was trying to run a campaign in 20 local markets. It would take days to contact hundreds of available sites and gather the information needed to put together a local media plan. With LIONshare, it will take minutes.”

For many local news websites, LIONshare provides their first opportunity to be a part of national and regional advertising campaigns. “As the news websites roll out new products and content sections, the platform will serve as a powerful marketing tool, allowing thousands of media planners to view a site’s continually updated capabilities,” said Randy Picht, RJI executive director and former news executive. More than 2,000 independent publishers and dozens of local publishing groups—totaling thousands more local sites—already are included in the LIONshare database.

How LIONshare works

At the heart of the platform lies a proprietary mapping and matching logic that pulls detailed data from more than 7,200 local media websites. Each website has been assigned a unique GEO footprint at the ZIP-code level. The LIONshare media planner wizard then uses those profiles and footprints to pull matches for a campaign request for proposal (RFP) into a working media plan.

In the first month of beta release, LIONshare has assembled local displays, video, mobile and tablet campaigns for dozens of brands, including national fast-food chains, state lotteries and travel destinations looking to reach people in specific markets. Planners across the country are using the platform to create content channels and high-impact creative products.

“The unique digital-advertising products we see coming out of LIONshare already are staggering,” Koontz said.

LIONshare divides the U.S. into 418 Local Marketing Zones, nearly double the Nielsen top 210 TV markets, for fine-tuning campaigns. Each zone includes a complete rank listing of every local media website.

“Our rankings are complete, accurate and — as far as we know — one of a kind,” Jungmann said. “The platform’s unique mapping technology enables planners to now set boundaries of their campaigns with much greater flexibility, accuracy and precision. LIONshare enables media planners to create digital plans by any combination of state, TV market, Local Marketing Zone, county, ZIP code or address, Jungmann added.

Note: Get a load of this super-impressive sampling of local media websites in LIONshare! Advance Digital, BH Media Group, CBS Local, Community Publishers, Cumulus, iHeart Radio, Deseret Digital, Digital First Media, ABC-TV Stations Group, Dix Commuications,, Emmis Communications, EO Media Group, Fox Stations, Gannett, GateHJouse Media, McClatchy, NBC, Sinclair, TEGNA, Houston Community Newspapers, ImpreMedia Digital LLC, Max Media LLC, Morris Communications Company, News Press & Gazette Company, Patch Media, Schurz Communications, Sound Publishing/Black Press, Southern Community Newspapers, Telemundo Network Group, Times-Shamrock Communications, Tribune 365, Tribune Broadcasting (Television), Voice Media Group (VMG), Wick Communications.

Originally published on

Brian Steffens  
Director of Communications


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