Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

On the third and final day of The Blinder Group and SNA sponsored Revenue Leadership Summit, the session broke into tracks mid-day. The two tracks, management and digital, had success stories and advice on merging the industry. The digital track, presented by Art Howe, chairman of Verve Wireless, and Bill Ganon, general manager of local sales at Verve Wireless, focused on the emergence of not only online digital, but the mobile wave.

While you may already have a personal Facebook profile that helps you keep in touch with long lost friends, share photos and communicate with everyday peers, the thought of running a business page on the world’s largest social networking system might still appear daunting. Where would you start? Why is it necessary? How much time and effort will it take?

n one of the most dynamic presentations, Mel Taylor, president of the Philadelphia- based Mel Taylor Media, delivered a speech on the importance of being hyper- local, developing your website, and, above all, being in the know about what your competitors are doing. Local advertiser’s dollars are the “life blood” of the newspaper, but they’re being corrupted and bombarded by your competitors trying to secure their business. Advertisers are moving a larger percentage of their money to web advertising. So, if you don’t offer online, someone else will. Taylor said that in order to succeed, newspapers need to do a complete overhaul and run your online department like print. To start with, he says, you need to think like a publisher. This means putting profit above anything else, then operational and then editorial—in that order!

The second day of the conference was purely dedicated to mobile with two panel discussions on the mobile landscape: “Part One: Commerce and Coupon Strategies” and “Part Two: Content. Delivery. Engagement.” This landscape goes beyond apps or the latest electronic device, be it phones or tablets. These are all parts of a larger whole, a complex media environment. Conference leaders encouraged newspapers to look at digital and online as whole and create a detailed digital strategy that goes beyond simply putting an app out, and looks at how that will fit into the bigger picture.

The way people consume information is evolving. Newspapers must realize the change and embrace it; jump in with both feet. Sales departments have, for too long, waded in the murky trails of the past print innovators who, at one point, led the way in technological advancements. It’s time to wake up, reboot, and invest in the technologies that are now revolutionizing the advertising industry.

Another hot-button topic at the fall SNA conference that was widely discussed was microsites. Stephen Zonars, general manager for ThisWeek Community Newspapers, explained the benefits of microsites in his speech “Show Me the Money.” Microsites are small, singularly focused websites created for an advertiser. Though similar to a landing page or a squeeze page, which are generally only one page, a typical microsite would be about three-to-five pages of content.

John Paton, CEO of the Journal Register Company, delivered a rousing keynote presentation on the opening day of the SNA conference. His speech, titled “Digital First Print Last,” set the tone for the conference — showcasing the importance for newspapers to realize this is the time for a major transformation. We are at a crossroads; revenue is shrinking and the legacy business model is not working anymore, so we need to find a new way of approaching business.

The search for homes online has grown over 10 percent in just two years. Capitalize on this new facet of media to bring your paper — and your pocket — more revenue. Advertisements on your newspaper’s website are essential; nothing new. But, interactivity within those advertisements is an innovative way to rejuvenate the tired tactics of advertising.

Many people are reluctant to put a lot of time and effort into online marketing, particularly banner ads. They tend to focus on a direct response from click-through rates, when, in reality, people don’t often click on banner ads. However, there are still great advantages to banner ads. Not least of which is company visibility and branding exposure. There are two angles for real estate advertising: either branding the agent/agency or advertising the property. It’s best to do these separately, as your message may get muddled.

In an industry that has been stressed by years of increased newsprint costs and declining advertising revenue, people have long been waiting for a white knight to come to the rescue. When Apple released the iPad in April 2010, people saw it as just that. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch quickly jumped in to endorse the iPad: “It may well be the saving of the newspaper industry.” Still, some were skeptical that this was just over-sensationalized hype that publishers were eagerly grasping at to keep hope alive, as Roy Greenslade argues in his article “Is iPad Really Digital Saviour of Newspapers? Don’t Bet On It” for thisislondon.co.uk.

Newspapers have traditionally been a print-oriented medium, and some have been reluctant to make the leap to an online presence. And for those that have, the advertising doesn’t always follow suit. Advertising reps tend to overlook the value of online ads, and simply push the print aspect. But with the changing times, it’s important for newspapers to widen their scope when it comes to advertising and realize that their website can be valuable real estate.

The consistent goal of advertising has been to attract more of your most valuable customers.  For newspapers, that goal has recently turned to new media trends to aid in the outreach.  Online advertising has become a phenomena in marketing strategizes for even the smallest of industries.  But, with the overwhelming array of choices the internet brings to the consumer, people are becoming increasingly distracted and overly particular on where they want to spend their time and money.