3 Ways TEGNA’s Adam Ostrow is Building Trust Between Local News, Advertisers, and Local Communities

Honored to be named Digiday’s TV Executive of the Year, TEGNA’s Adam Ostrow has found new ways to build audience trust, combat misinformation, and increase viewer engagement. Here’s what that means for your brand.

As one of the largest local media companies in the country, TEGNA represents 64 local news affiliates across the country who deliver 24/7, high-quality news and information. Why should anyone care? Because local news is the most trusted source of news and information available. And in a 2020 study from the interactive advertising bureau, 84 percent of viewers’ who trust local news say that their trust extends to brands advertising in that same local news.  

Adam Ostrow, TEGNA’s chief digital officer and Digiday’s TV Executive of the Year, is taking that trust to new heights. Since joining the company in 2017, he’s found new ways to build audience trust, combat misinformation and increase viewer engagement. In just three years, his accomplishments are many and include:  

  • – Launching new websites across all TEGNA affiliates, reaching 74 million people each month through digital properties and captivating 32 million social media followers 
  • – Introducing TEGNA station apps to streaming platforms Roku and FireTV 
  • – Expanding the company’s critically-acclaimed VERIFY brand, which reaches 7 million fans on Snapchat  
  • – Giving audiences new ways to see & share what’s happening around them with Near Me 
  • – Paving the way for TEGNA’s podcasting efforts by launching Vault Studios and acquiring LockedOn, original podcast studios dedicated to true crime and local sports, respectively.   

Just like viewers trust in local news, Adam’s good work extends to brand advertising.  

Good News: The Halo Effect of Trust  

Advertisers have long been wary of partnering with news outlets out of fear of running alongside controversial or volatile news stories. According to the IAB, however, advertisers have nothing to fear, stating “This study defies the fallacies and myths preventing brands and their agencies from relying on news outlets as viable vehicles in times of crisis.” 

Initiatives like VERIFY have helped cultivate a feeling of confidence for audiences, extending the news-trust halo to brand advertisers.  

“From a brand perspective, it can be a little scary to want to advertise with news considering all the misinformation going around,” Ostrow said. “With VERIFY, we are making sure our content is extremely trustworthy, which is a positive for advertisers. We are creating credible, accurate, and transparent content that upholds the highest standards in terms of clean and thoroughly researched journalism.”   

Originally launched across TEGNA’s on-air news product, VERIFY is now reaching a new audience“VERIFY on Snapchat reaches millions of visitors each month. This includes a much younger audience as 50% is under the age of 24,” he said. “It’s a great audience that extends the reach VERIFY has on television.” 

Bringing TV, Digital & The Community Together with User-Generated Content 

Beyond expanding TEGNA’s VERIFY brand, Ostrow has been a pioneer in terms of creating tools that allow stations to engage more deeply with their audience. For example, Ostrow’s team built a new section in TEGNA’s local news apps called “Near Me.” This feature allows users to create and share local content. Using local map technology, any app user can see video content in any location across their town.  

In addition, Ostrow engineered the stations’ use of a new texting platform that allows audiences to text the stations directly with questions about what’s happening in their community. Both of these tools are a huge advantage during major news events, such as Texas’s recent winter storm. 

“People were sending in everything from photos and videos of the winter weather, to people asking questions about the power situation, and at times life-saving information like ‘where can I find heat or a warming center?” Ostrow said. More than 44,000 messages were sent to stations across Texas at the peak of the storms, further strengthening the relationship between TEGNA stations and the local communities they serve.  

“By creating a safe environment for our community to engage with us and interact, which is really what our user-generated content tools allow, we’re creating an environment that’s frankly a much healthier and brand-safe environment to enable community interaction.” 

A Good Future: Streaming, Podcasting, and More on the Horizon 

It’s no secret that 2020 changed media consumption dramatically – a lot of shifts to digital are happening fast. That’s why Ostrow’s work to bring all of TEGNA’s apps to streaming platforms like Roku and Amazon Fire TV is so important, especially for our clients and brand advertisers. 

People think a lot about Netflix, AppleTV, and Hulu. But there’s also a huge, growing interest in free ad-supported content, which is where TEGNA plays,” said Ostrow.  

“The nice thing from an advertising perspective is that streaming offers the same types of targeting capabilities that we’ve traditionally had on the web. I think it’s where the future of video advertising is headed, so we are investing big in that space, and we’ll have a lot more to come there this year.”  

Also to come this year is the growth and development of on-demand content with Vault Studios, an original podcast studio that releases highly produced true crime stories from across all TEGNA stations, and Locked On, a newly acquired podcast network for sports fans.  

All news is not created equal and while there may be news outlets that are not brand-safe for advertisers, Ostrow is ensuring that TEGNA’s digital products are not only brand safe but brand best. Good things are on the horizon.  

Put Your Digital Messages in Good Places  

Thinking of how to safely amplify your brand messages in the digital space?  Get in touch.   

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