Past blogs in this space have focused on the technical aspects of the integrated sales model.

This one is dedicated to the C in the ABCD sales model (Audience, Bundle, Creative and Deal) — reinforcing the importance of creative concepts and execution in generating sustainable revenue growth and leveraging our combined print and digital audience.

Think about it: Not so long ago, newspapers were limited to selling print ads in similar ad sizes. An advertiser could buy black and white ads, spot colour ads or process colour ads. Desirable ad positions (such as front page ads, island ads or waterfall ads) were limited.

Today, newspapers allow a broad range of creative ad positions, and in many cases inventory is limited by demand. And on digital platforms, creative execution is virtually unlimited.

Think about this as well:

In the mid- to late-1990s newspapers were launching first-generation Web sites that were governed by IAB standard ad sizes. There were three, and in many cases those ad sizes still comprise the majority of digital ads.

Now OPA ads are emerging as advertiser favourites because they are larger and command greater reader attention. In many cases IAB and OPA standard ads co-exist.

Beyond that there are several premium ad positions that lend themselves to being a great creative platform and, not surprisingly, produce superior results for advertisers.

In our case, the highest clickthrough rates come from home page wallpaper, sometimes accompanied by a home page takeover. Our custom e-mail creative execution generates similar results. Take it a step further, and customising the creative to a target audience or geography gets even better results. There is also the additional benefit of inserting multiple links that generate intelligent reports on who clicked, what they clicked on, and where they came from or where they went.

Like many U.S. newspapers, we are part of the Yahoo! newspaper consortium. Yahoo! offers an e-mail page ad position that is one of the largest digital ad positions, if not the largest. Not surprisingly, advertisers love this position and have collectively spent US$1 million in the last year to buy it. It is among our best-selling ad sizes.

The point is this: great creative execution strategically placed in print or on digital platforms produces higher audience engagement, better results and higher advertiser retention rates than a standard ad message ever will.

The C in the integrated sales model is as important as any of the other elements and needs to be cultivated for maximum competitive advantage in local markets.