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Google News Initiative

Fighting the digital divide for diverse news publishers

This illustrated image shows people working and doing different things with news

The digital divide and technology gap that hundreds of US based Black- and Latino-owned publications face is something the Google News Initiative is working to bridge in partnership with news associations like National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN).

As a result, we jointly developed the GNI Ad Transformation Lab, a program to support publishers serving underrepresented communities in their transition to digital. The first round of the Lab helped 28 Black, and Latino publishers advance their digital businesses and build digital advertising capabilities required to achieve growth today. This was done by providing extensive analytical and technical support alongside personalized coaching to address each organization’s distinct digital business transformation.

And while we recognize that this shift requires years of hard work, we’re encouraged by the early results. On average, participating publishers experienced a 25% increase in programmatic revenue, a 10% increase in traffic and a 30% improvement in PageSpeed scores.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., President and CEO of the NNPA has noted that “it’s crucial to embrace a digital first business priority to remain financially sustainable.” And that’s why we will be continuing this partnership to launch a second Lab to help more Black- and Latino- owned publications on their steps towards a digital future.

“At first, we didn’t know what we didn’t know,” says Bethany Lane, Revenue Strategist at QCity Metro based in Charlotte, North Carolina. “The GNI Ad Transformation Lab was an intense education. It has pushed us further down the road toward sustainability.” QCity Metro experienced 100%+ growth in direct sold advertising revenue and average revenue per client, and secured a number of new advertising clients due to participation in the program.

“With the GNI, we learned how to use new tools, set up digital advertising campaigns, and significantly improve our site. In seven months, we were able to grow our advertising revenue, improve our site speed, better the user experience, and motivate and energize our team,” says Jose Zelaya, Editor-in-Chief of Miami-based Noti Bomba.

Other publishers experienced similar growth. In their own words:

This is a video of Dana Peck, Director of Digital Solutions at The AFRO, sharing her experience in the GNI Ad Transformation Lab.

Dana Peck, Director of Digital Solutions at The AFRO , based in Baltimore, Maryland. Established in 1892, The Afro is the longest-running African-American family-owned newspaper in the United States.

This is a video of Will Medina, Director of Sales and Marketing at Prensa Arizona, sharing his experience in the GNI Ad Transformation Lab.

Will Medina, Director of Sales and Marketing at Prensa Arizona, the state’s largest weekly independently owned Spanish newspaper.

We look forward to sharing the insights we’ve learned with a new group of publishers next year. The application for the 2022 Ad Transformation Lab is now live. The application window will close on Monday, November 29 at 11:59 p.m. EST. We encourage news organizations and publishers who serve diverse and underrepresented communities in the United States and Canada to apply.

The GNI remains dedicated to sharing best practices with the broader community of news organizations and will continue to incorporate resources into our ongoing Digital Growth Program, available to all publishers around the world for free online.

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