Media Company Finds New 7-Figures of Revenue

Contact Brian Chilton President Popmount/ News Keepsake, Inc (804) 232-4999



Editor and Publisher


Like people who still collect LPS and CDS, the need for physical merchandise from newspapers is making a comeback at Advance Local, a group of twenty-six newspapers and magazines, according to Michael Fibison, VP of inside sales. Their local sites turn content into salable merchandise via a strategic partnership with Popmount, a technology, custom manufacturing, and fulfillment company. He said that upsells of obituaries plaques alone top seven figures of revenue, about half of which is profit. Most Advance newspapers chose to bake the cost of the $30 keepsake (with a 50 percent margin) into the price of the obituary package. They publish 50,000 obituaries a year. “The gain in incremental revenue first got me interested,” Fibison said. “But families also love it and even send thank you notes to us. “ “People have a lot of alternatives for placing a death notice, including opting-out of placing one at all,” Fibison noted. “It also does something nice for funeral homes. If they give you their logo, you can place it along with the newspaper’s brand on the keepsakes which go into thousands of private homes.”* Today Advance also orders plaques for “Top Workplaces” and “Reader Choice” awards from Popmount, knocking out the non-partner competitors who once sold their plaques to the newspaper’s contest winners. “The minute the newspaper hit the street, [the non-partner competitors] were calling businesses saying, ‘Congratulations, would you be interested in a commemorative plaque?’” said Fibison. Jocelyn Senn, CEO of Popmount, said that other newspapers and magazines had the same problem across the country. “’The Best of ’ Plaques were lost to 3rd party pirates who were basically stealing the copyright without running the content… they were like piranhas.” Popmount also supplies the software to sell staff photos, especially high school sports, from links in the articles. There are numerous opportunities such as Veterans Day, Graduation, local events and more that can be monetized. The return of interest in physical merchandise will be outstanding during prom week this year when Advance Local plans to go “all in’’ taking prom photos -available on commemorative keepsakes such as photo prints, acrylic, crystal, hardiplaques and other mementos. “Working with Popmount has been seamless: Easy, quick to implement, and essentially flawless. You never have any issues; they are perfect at this,” Fibison added. “Our custom technologies and integrations, and our understanding of the publishing industry empower Popmount to be a valuable strategic partnership” says Brian Chilton, president of Popmount. Popmount, whose clients include The Washington Post and The Seattle Times, says major headline news can turn into significant sales. After UVA won a national championship, The Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Va., earned over $30,000 selling sports page and home page keepsakes. Historic news such as headlines of Obama’s presidential win did equally well. Now Advance Local is eyeing a companywide roll-out of e-commerce stores with Popmount for other newspaper-branded items, such as T-shirts, modeled on stores at The Post Standard in Syracuse, NY, and Jersey’s Best magazine. However, material content is still king in merchandise stores. “As things go more digital, our product becomes more important; digital is fleeting, whereas archival keepsakes are forever,” Senn explains. “This is an opportunity for newspapers to create permanence of content for special memories and increase revenue through Popmount.”