Integrating print and digital advertising sales is not a question of “when.” The time is now, and the questions of “why” and “how” are the subject of this inaugural blog on integrated advertising sales by INMA.

INMA is pleased to present this Integrated Advertising Sales blog to shine a light on best practices and implementation. The blog is based, in part, on the February 2010 INMA report titled “When, Why and How To Integrate Print and Digital Advertising Sales: Lessons from Market Leaders” (a must read).

As chair of this new INMA blog, I'd like to share my story and my perspective on integrated advertising sales.

When Jerry Grilly, president and CEO of The Denver Post, and I built the sales model for our newspaper, it was based on several simple concepts:

1. Why wouldn't we take advantage of our total audience reach and aggregate print, online, mobile and social to offer, by far, the largest audience size compared to any other media company in our local/regional market to build the strongest competitive positioning and sustainable revenue growth? Perhaps the most damaging effect of the last 3+ years to newspapers has been forgetting that we are, in virtually every size market, the audience leaders.

2. Why wouldn't we bundle print, online, mobile and social into an integrated sales proposal to advertisers of all sizes? We would do this, in part, to increase the return on investment for advertisers. Yet we would also do this to capture a greater share of locally available advertising dollars against cable, outdoor, radio, TV and the pure-play internet competitors with the ability to sell horizontally across all of our publishing platforms or vertically into our niche products.

3. Why wouldn't we leverage our in-house creative expertise to combine audience with agency-quality creative that is included in our customized pitch decks that are built by our sales people themselves off a SharePoint marketing communications platform we call iShare?

4. Why wouldn't we include in every pitch a recommendation on spending that is supported by all of the above?

Based on meetings Jerry and I had with major and middle market advertisers, we were certain they were looking for advertising solutions that went far beyond buying an ad in the newspaper. And we were correct. The greater the fluency we had as a media company across all of our publishing platforms, the greater the interest level in buying into our advertising recommendations.

These are questions and issues that will be answered and discussed in future Integrated Advertising Sales blog posts by my fellow bloggers and me.

After 16 months of introducing, evangelizing, evolving, tweaking and continuously improving our integrated sales model, which we refer to as ABCD (Audience, Bundle, Creative and Deal), the Denver Post's results have improved dramatically. The Post has moved from 22nd in March 2009 in overall revenue performance, compared to the same month prior year percentage gain/loss among the largest U.S. daily newspaper peer group to fifth year-to-date this year and from 19th interactive revenue gain/loss to fourth in August 2010 with a year-on-year increase of 18.1%. We anticipate more improvement to come as we perfect the model and build even greater digital fluency and sales confidence within our organization.

Thank you for reading the INMA Integrated Advertising Sales blog, and we look forward to and encourage your feedback and participation.