Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle’s Innovative Ad Concepts

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle appears to be a malleable local resource for the local community, and changes its ad tactics and content based on the needs of the population. Having a keen ear and watchful eye on the needs of the population is a must for any newspaper that wants to maintain a strong presence in their area.

While many small papers look to huge newspapers to find new and innovative ways of adding revenue to their advertising departments, in many cases it isn’t necessary. Yes, larger newspapers usually have larger budgets and are staffed with excellent people, this does not mean, however, that smaller papers do not have equally innovative people that can turn their ad departments around with clever ideas and a commitment to keeping up with the times. This article is the first in a series that will be doing mini profiles on smaller newspapers, whether privately owned or owned by a small corporation, that are doing new and interesting things in their ad departments to compete in an ever-changing and consistently more digital market.

One of these papers is the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Although owned by Pioneer Newspapers, a small corporation that owns a variety of newspapers in the North Western United States, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle had some ad concepts on their home page that I didn’t see universally across Pioneer’s other publications. The first of these ad concepts, one that I thought was especially brilliant, was a corner peel-tab ad on the top-right corner of the home page. When a user hovers over it, the full retail ad would appear. The ad color contrasted with the paper’s home page, making it very noticeable, however its size made it discreet. An ad like this presents one of the benefits of advertising online. Because it is a dynamic medium, the page can change right before the user’s eyes, giving you infinite and malleable space. 

This ad, in particular, piqued my interested so I called Doug Weber, the Chronicle’s Advertising Director, to ask him about it, and pick his brain about other innovative and wonderful ideas that are going on at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “The (grocery store) had a 13-hour sale going on so they ran a ‘power note’ during that time to try and drive customers there. We sold it as a bundle, as an ad package, and just took their sale flyer to create the ad. In our special sections, you can see similar graphic and dynamic qualities; you can view them by going to ‘community’ in the navigation bar and selecting ‘special sections.’”

The special sections portion of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle is pretty brilliant as well. The sections all have a similar mechanism that the previously mentioned ad has, but you can also use action buttons or a laptop finger stroke. Each section also has its own uniquely designed portal to enhance the viewing experience. It is so much like reading an actual magazine; you can almost smell the ink. The special sections part of the website is massive. They have cataloged all of their recent special sections including a “Babes of 2010,” which is a photo catalog of all births in the area in the past year. This section also includes niche magazines for almost everyone, including brides, fishermen, birdwatchers, parents and business owners. These are just a fraction of the special sections they offer, and they are all spectacularly designed with expert information. Check them out at Although all the special sections exhibit impeccable design and great content, one called “Daytripper” caught my eye. “Daytripper” gives readers a month’s worth of daily, small time-investment activities to do in the Bozeman area, all of which are affordable. This publication is great for both parents and new locals (even seasoned residents), because it de-mystifies the “what is there to do here?” question. Readers can become included in the local community by attending these places or events, meet new people and experience new things in their area. This section also allows local “activity businesses” to promote their business, and describe more about what they can offer than traditional advertising. For example, the local indoor pool can offer a complete schedule, rather than just advertising their business hours.  Because of the impressive repertoire of special sections, I was curious to hear more about the Chronicle’s innovative additions.

Weber told me about some other things to look at on the Bozeman Daily Chronicle website, one of which being a classified ads container that had tabs for each vertical: automotive, recruitment and real estate. This container serves as a “top jobs” section, and features ads for the three verticals for an upsell. Like the previous ad we mentioned, this container is dynamic, and allows for changes to occur within it. This container is also an excellent addition, because it has great space economy. By allowing users to switch from different classified verticals using tabs, instead of navigating away, then to another page, you are able to increase the amount of online classified ads that are seen, and allow for users to stumble upon ads, instead of actively looking for them. This is effective because, as Weber says, “Not everybody is actively looking for a job, but everybody is in the job market, even if they aren’t aggressive about looking for [a job]. If the right opportunity comes around, it can change a lot. So, that container is both for the aggressive and passive job seekers.”

I asked Weber if the Bozeman Daily Chronicle is doing well, and although “like any paper, the economy has hit us pretty hard and we have had to be pretty aggressive in the past few years, but Bozeman is a newspaper town, and is locally charged, and the paper benefits from that.” It is true that more locally charged community papers would often have more luck in terms of selling space to advertisers when they know someone is looking at it. Bozeman, in particular, is a “very community-oriented university towns with a great local market and great retail market, and that makes a good newspaper market.”

Since the Bozeman Daily Chronicle’s innovative ad ideas and their locally charged community seem to be working, I asked Weber if he had any advice for other ad managers nationwide. “One thing we fight against is the newspaper mentality, which dictates how things are done and how they are priced. People need to be flexible with clients and ideas. We need to hire the right people, people that are innovative, even if they are from a different industry. Don’t discount their ideas because in those ideas you’ll find things that you can take out into the market or mold into a great product. We need to be progressive in our attitude in how we do business, it’s not just ‘here’s my rate card, call me when you need me anymore.’ We can’t continue to do business as usual and take for granted that we will be here for another 100 years.”

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle appears to be a malleable local resource for the local community, and changes its ad tactics and content based on the needs of the population. Having a keen ear and watchful eye on the needs of the population is a must for any newspaper that wants to maintain a strong presence in their area. The Chronicle is a symbol of what small papers should aspire to be; not staunchly set in their ways and opposed to change, but mindful of technology and cultural trends, as those developments and trends will inform the minds of the population. The newspaper can be the leader in information and advertising, it just needs to look to the needs of its readers.